Felix Rivera-Pitre on Police Assault at Occupy Wall Street

A VOCAL-NY member was brutally assaulted in an unprovoked attack by a senior NYPD officer on October 14th during an Occupy Wall Street march. Although initial press coverage focused on Mr. Rivera-Pitre’s HIV status, there was practically zero risk of transmission to the police officer who assaulted him. Mr. Rivera-Pitre helped lead the Millionaires March on the Upper East Side and the protest outside One Chase Plaza against CEO Jamie Dimon earlier in the week. Videos of the police assault on Mr. Rivera-Pitre and a follow up interview are available via The Street.

For Immediate Release – October 14th at 8:30pm | Media Contact: Sean Barry, (646) 373-3344 sean@vocal-ny.org

Statement by VOCAL-NY Member Felix Rivera-Pitre On Police Assault At Occupy Wall Street

The whole world now knows about my living situation and my health status. I am going through difficult times right now due to bad decisions made by our government. It shouldn’t have been this hard for me or for most people I know to get ahead these days.  If it wasn’t for these young people going out to Occupy Wall Street, us older people wouldn’t have reacted.  We have been too numb from the pain for too long.  I do want to thank the young people who started this movement and for saving me this morning.

The reason I went down there is because I believe in what they are doing. I am part of the 99% and I didn’t agree with the decision to evict them from the park. The park was not dirty. I stand by what these people are asking – what we are all asking – we want to be treated equally.  The real mess is what Wall Street did to our economy and that’s what they really need to be cleaning up.

While I was marching, I was hit from behind by a white shirt cop. The cop pulled my arm and punched me in the left side of my face.  I didn’t do anything to provoke him.  I was just doing what everyone else was doing in the march.  It felt like he was taking his frustrations out on me.  I didn’t have time to hold my balance, I was down on the ground and I thought I was going to be arrested.  I only realized I was being rescued when I heard people calling “save him, save him.” I was suspended as the cops were pulling on my legs and everyone else was pulling on my arms.  I didn’t touch the ground for what felt like an eternity.

What really touched me was the way the crowd reacted and how I was protected by them and how well taken care of I was. When I was punched it felt like I was alone, but then as the crowd rescued me I knew I wasn’t.

It felt like I was singled out by the cop.  I don’t know if it is because I look gay or because I don’t look like a mainstream person. But I was simply doing what everyone else was doing.

Even though I’m not going to be around Occupy Wall Street for a few days, I will be back as soon as I can. I will not let my people down.

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