Chelsea Elliott, Occupy Wall Street Protester Sprayed by Cop, Tells Us What Happened


Earlier today we posted the video above from USLaw, in which an NYPD officer appears to walk up to a group of cordoned-off Occupy Wall Street protesters (most of them young women) near Union Square and spray them without warning with a can of pepper spray or possibly mace. They drop to the ground screaming, in obvious pain. We got in touch with one of the women, Chelsea Elliott, 25, a freelance digital imager who lives in Greenpoint -- she's the one in the front, with the long hair, wearing the crop tank top. After the jump, her retelling of the incident.

Tell us what led up to this.
We'd marched to Union Square, and we were dancing. We'd walked 2.4 miles, and I was on, I think, 12th Street. These cops [in the blue shirts] were in front of me and told me not to move. They pulled out the net. I was trying to reason with them, saying, "We're pedestrians, we're here for you too, we know your pensions are being cut, your friends are losing their jobs..." They were kind of unresponsive. This girl behind me was getting upset. We were penned off on the sidewalk, and I couldn't really see, but I've seen video since, and there was a kid being beat up in the street*.

I heard screams near me, and this young girl near me was shoved down [by the police] -- their hands were on her head until she reached the pavement (she was yelling because the cops were beating up some 19-year-old kid). I screamed something like, "Stop! Why are you doing this?" There was blood and shit; it was terrifying. I looked at the cop I'd been talking to, and he had a blank but worried expression. Then this cop in a white collared shirt came around and just sprayed us, not even one steady stream, more like you were spraying a plant -- me and three or four other girls. I fell to the ground, and the girl behind me, this pretty, thin girl, a total hippie, with short hair and a gray tank top, they got her so bad! We were just lying on the ground, it was extremely painful. The cop I was talking to, he talked to the cop who sprayed us, and was like, "Thanks for the warning." I think he got maced in the eye, too.

What happened then?
We lay on the ground like little worms. One of the other girls was a medic, and was able to pour milk in her eyes. The cops left. They moved the net. All I know from what happened afterward, I watched on YouTube. For like 15 minutes, I couldn't see; I couldn't breathe at first. It was so out of the ordinary and unprovoked. Our medical group poured milk into my eyes for like 10 minutes, and apple cider vinegar on my face.

What did the spray feel like? Do you know if it was pepper spray or mace**?
It was incredibly painful. The pain in my face went away after about an hour; my ears felt like the worst sunburn of my life. It feels like pouring a bottle of Tabasco all over your eyes and face, and I have a really high pain tolerance. I was on the ground sobbing. It was so bad. The short-haired girl, after watching the video, I know she had it worse than me....

It was a white spray bottle. People told me it was pepper spray when I described my reaction, but I can't confirm. All I know is that it hurt and took a few seconds for me to realize that my face was on fire, so probably pepper spray...

When we got up I realized they had another part of the street blocked off and a line of 50 19- to 26-year-olds handcuffed with those cheap plastic things, against the wall, sitting down. One of my friends, Katie, was there. They took them to jail on an MTA bus. I don't know all the details, but she didn't get home until 2 a.m. Such a waste of resources.

How does this make you feel about the NYPD?
I still can't believe that it happened. Most of the cops are really not like that. Most of the time they're with us. The cops around me were pissed that it happened. Yesterday, I think they were scared, and under a lot of pressure. Ironically enough, and unfortunately, the cops spraying a bunch of white girls, well, our donations have tripled. We're getting media attention. This provokes momentum. It sucks that it had to get to this point, but people aren't going to leave. Even if it doesn't get huge, it's about endurance.

How did you get involved with Occupy Wall Street?
This is the first protest I've ever been involved in. This has been one of the greatest things I've done for myself. I have a point. Little problems and work bullshit don't bother me anymore.

How are you managing to do this and your job?
I'm a freelancer, and I show up at the protest whenever I don't have work to do, or I work at night. I've put my social life on hold. It's totally worth it. We're not just a bunch of crazy kids who are pissed because we don't have jobs. A lot of people there are very highly educated.

What do you hope to achieve?
I really just want to create some kind of dialogue. I feel like our government is being run by the people they are supposed to be regulating. They're being careless with money. We have 7 hour [general assembly] meetings about why we're here, what our demand is. It's so much bigger than just a simple demand. It's about the demise of the middle class...in every civilization, you're only as healthy as your middle class, and our middle class is in trouble. People have not been held accountable, and companies that should be paying taxes are not paying taxes. Alan Greenspan used to work at Goldman Sachs! I'm here for my grandparents, who are too old to protest. I feel like this should have been done a long time ago.

Can you describe the cop who sprayed you?
He was a typical cop guy. Buzz cut, white guy, probably like late 30s/mid 40s. The stereotype. He had a white collared shirt, which I think means he's a higher up.

Is he the guy in this photo, the cop laughing while texting***?
I think that's him.**** I think he was really confused. If anything, I would like to thank him for giving us media attention. There's a few rotten apples in every bunch. I'm sure there are people out there protesting who were violent. I don't want his actions to take away from the rest of the police. We're designing flyers to give out to the police, flyers for every different type of worker -- teachers, firemen, etc. -- to explain "this is what our economy has done to you." We're on their side.

You're okay -- your eyes are okay?
I had some nasty eye boogers this a.m. but all is fine. My parents are freaking out. I'm like, don't worry, I'll wear sunglasses next time.


*Video of the girl being slammed to the ground, and the "kid being beat up in the street":

**Per Esther's post this weekend, the NYPD has said they use pepper spray, but don't use mace, and declined comment on the events yesterday.

***More photos of arrests, and the spraying and aftermath, via Davids Camera Craft.

****Update: Anonymous has released information about the cop they think is the one who sprayed Elliott and the other women; he is not the one in the photo texting and laughing.

Update: Here's another video of the events leading up to the spraying:

Update 2: Per the New York Times, NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne said the police had used the pepper spray "appropriately."

"Pepper spray was used once," he added, "after individuals confronted officers and tried to prevent them from deploying a mesh barrier -- something that was edited out or otherwise not captured in the video."

[JDoll / @thisisjendoll]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.


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90 comments
macewan
macewan

paul browne - so sad to see your dickless support of tony bologna

facebook-1113394599
facebook-1113394599

hmmmm go home folks, nothing to see here. has been a month, if want change, the change your looking for, go to Washington, sit infront of the white house, Obama likes you all, maybe he have yall in for a beer sumit ?

Jane Chischilly
Jane Chischilly

I note the comment of this "guest"  was immediate and seems likely to be a planted comment by some scab they pay to cruise the internet and make up lies to print.  it is two weeks later and I still have NOT heard from any other source that, previous to being pepper-sprayed, there was any action such as striking an officer or resisting arrest.  You are a sub-human wretched liar working against the interests of humanity. You are disgusting.

Also another LIE that there is no goal or clear reason for the protest, Ignoranus!

Thinkingitstimetogrowup
Thinkingitstimetogrowup

The protest at wall ST I agree with..the stupidity against the cops that's just ridiculous!! Everyone has a job to do and that is their job!! Get over it! If you're going to protest be civil about it!!!! Some protesters get out of hand!!!! It seems as though some only do it for attention and are out to be ignorant without putting the point across..wonder if they even know what the protest is about!!

guest
guest

absolutely horrible. When did we become a country where you can get pepper sprayed for your right to free speech? 

It's time for a revolution. If no one has figured this out yet, i hate to be the bearer of bad news, but OUR country, OUR home, OUR freedom is crumbling. Things will not get better before it gets worse. 

Heard some interesting inside information the other day.... don't expect the economy to get better. It'll be at least another decade before things start getting better for the middle class and below. 

Ididitforthezookie
Ididitforthezookie

Protesting by screaming "fascist!" over and over again at cops will get you pulled to the ground by your hair every time.  Rich hipster kids pretending to be poor will only further complicate the issue as most of you probably took an hour to decide which outfit really said "protester."   You all are wasting your time.  Educate the poor and uneducated.  If you care that much then sell your ibook that your parents got you and donate the money to a greater cause.  Screaming at cops on Wall Street is only an attempt to make yourself feel better about yourself.  It's obvious and childish.  Grow up.  This will NEVER work and honestly you look pretty stupid doing it.  Go read another Bill Ayers book!  At least they had the right idea. 

Joshua
Joshua

The question is: how many people DON'T feel that the power in DC and Wall Street has grown out of control - to the point that it's no longer accountable to We, The People?Occupy Wall Street: A Thousand Recipes for System Change: http://www.josharthur.com/2011... 

1sensei
1sensei

Why not giv the cop a case of pepper spray and send him into the Bank of America, AiG, etc.

Jimmy02
Jimmy02

Well, Lieutenant Tony Boloney is just one more of those un-Ameican usless scumb-bag greasers from Brooklyn, Statin Island, The Bronx or Newark, NJ that have f@#ked up our country for the the last century!      

Klkennel
Klkennel

Those fucking cocksuckers! Glad Chelsea is okay

Guest
Guest

omg i am just sick to death of people who comment about not knowing what the goal is. im in a separate country at the moment and still know more than 30% of the [trolling] commentators. and still care more than they do it seems. very sad.

Brandon
Brandon

Has this cockfag been fired yet?

Chad Wortman
Chad Wortman

Point blank this is a facists government we are dealing with. Our rights went out the window with the patriot act. Peaceful protests  are nice and all but look how long it took in Egypt, and then to get things moving in the right direction. My opionion it's going to take a revolution and a realization from all of us (American Citizens) that the dollar is just a peice of paper that really holds no value what so ever. It only holds value if we believe it has value. What I believe WE THE PEOPLE want is justice on the bankers that caused this crisis.

MJR
MJR

Most of the violence in the these and other videos originate from superior officers - bullies in white.  The guys in blue (rank and file) seem passive and confused -  what are we doing this for?? Lay this one on Kelly, NYPD brass and the mayor.  Rank and file are actively encouraged to be reactive and use overwhelming force at the slightest provocation (this is peace-keeping??).   Note - none of officers are dressed for a riot - yet they are using strategies designed for one! If I were a police union rep I'd be pissed at all my members injured by pepper spray,and at risk for lawsuits. 

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Spo101
Spo101

Funny, how public sector workers such as police and corrections officers are asking for Americans to protect their job/pension/health care security from Republican/Conservative spending cuts (examples in Wisconsin and Ohio). But then the police state pays us back by beating, gas, shoot with rubber bullets and wrongfully arresting Americans who are demanding accountability from the Wall St con-artists who ruined our economy. The Class War has begun and the LAW better get out of the way.

Back in the late 90’s while the Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay were busy selling out the American middle class for a very few silver spoon trust fund babies...I don’t remember the public sector union workers standing up for their private sector union brothers and sisters.  Check out this newpaper headline from 4/16/99 article titled: “Mattel to layoff 3,000 workers. WALL STREET CHEERED the news of restructuring, sending Mattel’s stock up nearly 16 percent…”    WHAT?  We all know how IT turned out now that our children have all the latest LEAD based toys from China.      Questions one must ask: How did Wall Street become the enemy of the American working class? What did the 90’s Congress legislate to make it easy for Corporations to move jobs out of the country?   Would the police of the time blame 3000 Mattel workers for being VERY angry? Because that news article was about as “in your face” as it gets…    The reason why I bring police into the picture is because law enforcement UNIONS and associations have become some of the most powerful, wealthy entities on the American political scene. I can’t help but remember how many times in US history POLICE harassed, abused, beat, gassed and shot those who supported UNION organizing efforts. Public Service UNIONS have the sort of job/pension/healthcare security those of us in the private sector can only dream about.Note: (civil servants my skinny Italian-American @$$… just who is serving WHO?) 

ChicagoLoop
ChicagoLoop

He must've been texting mommy and daddy to let them know that he just sprayed some young girls in the face with pepper-spray. WHAT A MAN!

ChicagoLoop
ChicagoLoop

That cop that sprayed those girls is an irresponsible d*ckwad. I bet he feels like such a big boy now; maybe his mommy and daddy will love him now and think that he REALLY IS a big boy now that he sprayed some young, non-threatening girls in the face as his way of upholding the law. What a loser, and what a joke of a cop! Is THAT the best the NYPD can do? 

Nathanael Bassett
Nathanael Bassett

I saw an interview with another one of the protesters who were pepper sprayed on Democracy Now!, it really seems like the police are giving them a pretty hard time for trying to exercise their first amendment rights. I even went down there and I swear the cops outnumber the protesters at least 4 to 1... what are they afraid of? (the interview with the other pepper sprayed protester is somewhere here: http://www.democracynow.org/ta...

guest
guest

Yo, don't wear sunglasses! They don't block the spray at all, and actually just trap it against your face longer, make it harder to wash the eyes. /PSA.

Arpad08
Arpad08

Did they sing the internationale and some woody guthrie songs while they marched?  These loers are like barnacles on the mothership of capitalism.  Without Wall St, there is no America.

Eugene Kent
Eugene Kent

How disgusting. NYPD acting like ancient Romans at the Circus netting slaves then jumping forward to the Nazi era using Schutzstaffel (Himmler's Black Shirts) tactics.Wake up America, these aren't Americans these NYPD  are Fascists.

SDMKblog
SDMKblog

You're foolish to think you're 'with' the police, or on their 'side'. They are there to control your movements and activities, not protect and serve. You should have trusted them as much as you trust the traders on Wall Street. Both traders and police are more than happy to mace you - each in their own unique way...

Soundawg
Soundawg

Fascism is alive and growing in America!

Ron
Ron

It is just a shame that a lot of the protestors are coming off as unhappy undereducated babies. I'm all for the cause, but it is being misrepresented by this stupid occupy wall-street thing. I say they all get out of wall-street, realize most Americans realize that wall-street is bad already, and provide material and sources that show people that electing differently can lead to better things.

Ron Paul 2012.

Liz
Liz

I think swim goggles would be more effective than sunglasses.

guest
guest

What the hell is going on in this country when police can walk up to women in the street and spray them with pepper spray?  They cordon them off like cattle, spray them and walk away? The cop just hits and runs? They better hope this does not escalate like it did in the sixties or Wall Street may just start burning.

Drew
Drew

I've met the girl who was the target of the attack, couldn't weigh more that 100 pounds soaking wet and is such a sweet heart. The criminal that attacked her is Captain Anthony Bologna.

pissed
pissed

btw.... I'm down to write Lady Gaga on the ballot next year. Can't trust any politician anymore. 

Or maybe we should all write in Colbert. 

Victoria
Victoria

They should spray all the executives out like they're fumigating for insect pest control.  Next, the middle managers.  Gentlemen, meet the new US AG and SEC:  no plutocrat cockroach will ever be safe again .lol.   Not to be unfair to cockroaches of course it's just an idea!

guest
guest

Picture cited in the article was not the sprayer; not even wearing the same clothes, much less not the same person.  So this whole story of the sprayer texting and laughing about it afterward is false. 

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

Without Wall Street, there is no Corporatist America. We need to get rid of Corporatist Government, responsible for creating the sinkhole of World Economy solely for the benefit of the Upper Criminal Class.

ThePublic
ThePublic

"Without Wall St, there is no America."

I guess we'll see if that's true, as the rest of America--starting with the Constitutional right to peaceful assembly--gets stripped away in defense of Wall Street.

Monsieur Tarzan
Monsieur Tarzan

Yes, how dare they demand that people who committed crimes actually pay a price!  I didn't hear bankers complaining about assaults on capitalism when the government was giving them billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

AsThouWilt
AsThouWilt

I think they are in the process of acquiring tridents. Thats such a cool observation. Net, check. Mace, check. Horses, check. Royals, check. Self defeating Mercenaries, check.

Victoria
Victoria

This is a bit of copypasta that we'll probably encounter more and more.   Don't be put off, it's Republican propaganda at its most transparent, paid troll or not.  And don't elect Ron Paul lol

Monsieur Tarzan
Monsieur Tarzan

I guess the happy educated people are trying to blog Wall Street into submission?

Victoria
Victoria

burn it!  the only ones benefiting from it now are already billionaires.

guest
guest

No it isn't.  If you're going to pin it on someone, at least get the right guy.  The guy who did the spraying had a radio attached on his shoulder; Bologna doesn't in any of the other pictures.  

Also in case you missed it, he has a WTC service commendation; check the badges.  

guest
guest

Jen, is it possible to please update the article?  The picture you have linked to is clearly not the sprayer; there is nothing to support this story that this was him laughing and texting.

guest
guest

I'm going to take back my Bologna doesn't have a radio comment because there may be a pic of him with a radio; that is not clear. But it still doesn't show that it is him.  You guys have already misidentified the sprayer as a person laughing and texting afterward when that person was clearly a different person.  Are you going to take that back and correct that story?

Jen Doll
Jen Doll

Yep. Updated with asterisks and at the end. Keep in mind, I never said he was that cop, I asked Chelsea if she thought he was, and she said she thought so. I've annotated to reflect the new information. 

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