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NYPD Will Examine Use Of Pepper Spray On 'Occupy Wall Street' Protesters

At the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration in the financial district near Wall Street on Monday (Sept. 26, 2011).
Spencer Platt
Getty Images
At the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration in the financial district near Wall Street on Monday (Sept. 26, 2011).

Internal Affairs investigators from his department are going to look into whether it was appropriate for a high-ranking officer to use pepper spray Saturday on four women protesters at the ongoing "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said earlier today.

According to The New York Times' City Room blog:

"Kelly said concerns about the pepper spray episode had been referred to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that investigates allegations of police misconduct. Mr. Kelly said the department would also 'look at it ourselves as well,' and added that the internal inquiry would be handled by the Internal Affairs Bureau."

If you haven't yet seen the video of what happened when the women got sprayed, here it is. The women say they weren't doing anything wrong. On Saturday, about 80 people were arrested when protesters marched from lower Manhattan to Union Square.

New York's Gothamist blog adds that, "photographs and especially videos of the NYPD's actions during the occupation of Wall Street have sparked outrage and media attention regarding the protests. ... Accordingly, witnesses, including our own photographer, tell us that the NYPD has been specifically targeting photographers and videographers for arrest."

What is the protest all about? Arun Venugopal, of member station WNYC reported for All Things Considered yesterday that the hundreds of protesters who are eating, sleeping and rallying at an outdoor plaza in Manhattan:

"Feel the American political system is being gamed by corporations and the wealthy, what they call the 1 percent. The demonstrators have no leader and so far, they don't have any solutions, either. But amid the air mattresses and sleeping bags scattered across the park, they discuss everything from income disparities to keeping their camp clean."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.