Updated: Wed., Oct. 26, 2011, 6:17 AM
Rikers cons flood Zuccotti for free eats
By REBECCA ROSENBERG, JAMIE SCHRAM and BOB FREDERICKS
Last Updated: 6:17 AM, October 26, 2011
Posted: 3:50 AM, October 26, 2011
FEEDING FRENZY: Occupy Wall Street organizers say legitimate protesters like these are being overrun by released Rikers inmates and derelicts who come to Zuccotti Park for the free gourmet meals
Newly sprung ex-cons and vagrants rousted from other parks are crashing the Occupy Wall Street protest, where gourmet meals are free and boozy, drugfueled parties are on tap, the movement’s leaders griped yesterday.
“They’re telling people who leave prison to go to Zuccotti Park,” lamented Daniel Zetah, a leader of the OWS community-relations group.
Volunteer Lauren Digioia, 26, said, “We have drug dealing going on here, gang activity, public intoxication. There are a lot of instigators. There are a lot of vultures.
“Everyone knows we give out free food and sleeping bags, and it’s a perfect opportunity for squatters.”
Digioia said she recently met a man who just before getting sprung from Rikers, was told by a fellow inmate to hit Zuccotti for the free accommodations.
The frustrated organizers said they’re brainstorming how to launch a protest within the protest to target the drunken, stoned layabouts.
The derelicts, organizers say, are terrorizing people who are there to support the movement.
“There’s a lot of drugs, alcohol, assault [and] theft [by] the homeless groups coming in. We’ve had meetings all day to brainstorm what to do,’’ said Zetah, 34.
The hardened thugs are having a field day preying on overly trusting protesters, many of whom hail from small towns, leaders said.
On Monday, a 24-year-old Brooklyn woman originally from Brownville, Maine — population 1,260 — told cops that three men threatened her because she’d fingered one of their pals for brutally punching her and two others, another woman and a man in the face Oct. 11.
“You got our friend arrested. We’re going to kill you. Watch your back,” one of them told her.
Garfield Leslie, 19, of Brooklyn, was later charged with assault and Hasan Castillo, 23, of East Orange, NJ, with intimidating a witness.
And when the undesirables aren’t intimidating protesters, organizers said, they’re adding to the filth.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said he was unsure whether ex-cons really are relocating to the encampment.
But he added that “we’ve made arrests of suspects who assaulted people in Zuccotti Park in one instance, sexually abused a woman in another, and removed an individual who had stolen another’s boots.”
Meanwhile, in other developments yesterday:
* The NYPD inspector who pepper-sprayerd a protestor has been quietly transferred to an administrative post on Staten Island, The Post has learned. Anthony Bologna had been docked 10 vacation days after he was caught on video spraying teacher’s aide Kaylee Dedrick, 24, in the eyes.
His new assignment, as the borough’s special-projects inspector, will “get him out of the line of fire,’’ a source said.
* Four demonstrators headed uptown yesterday to harass Rep. Charles Rangel, who’d twice visited Zuccotti Park to support OWS but drew their wrath by voting for free-trade agreements with South Korea and Panama.
* A splinter group of OWS protesters and supporters found a new target — the city Department of Education. More than 100 demonstrators, including teachers, last night disrupted a schools meeting — shouting down Chancellor Dennis Walcott — at Seward Park HS on the Lower East Side.
The protesters complained about too much test prep, lack of resources and recent layoffs.
They’re drowning out the parents, who were the primary focus for tonight,” Walcott lamented to reporters.
* Another Community Board 1 meeting was held to address ongoing concerns over Zuccotti, which is in its area. The board voted 33-3 to limit drumming there to two hours a day.
A motion to clear out all the protesters from part of the park was tabled.
Additional reporting by Jessica Simeone, Antonio Antonucci, Yoav Gonan, Erin Calabrese & Doug Auer
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