Occupy Wall Street Led to Rise in Gun Crime, Police Say

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John Minchillo / AP

Some say statistics can prove anything. Now the NYPD claims the Occupy Wall Street movement is responsible for a surge in gun crime.

Recent reports reveal that the number of shooting victims for the first week of October 2011 jumped 154% compared to the same week in 2010. The number of people shot rose 28% in the past month, according to the New York Post. And the misery continued last week, with 22 people receiving bullet wounds by Friday, including three who were gunned down outside a Brooklyn school.

Police blame the increase on Zucotti Park’s newest inhabitants, saying the Occupy Wall Street movement is a major drain on already-stretched police resources. Since the protesters moved in on September 17, a strong police presence has been maintained by the NYPD’s special units and on march days, as many as 3,000 officers (approximately 10% of the total force) are drafted in to keep the peace.

(PHOTOS: Occupy Wall Street Protest Goes Global)

One police source told the New York Post that officers are being sorely missed in the crime hotspots they usually patrol. “Normally, the task force is used in high-crime neighborhoods where you have a lot of shootings and robberies,” they said. “They are always used when there are spikes in crime as a quick fix. But instead of being sent to Jamaica, Brownsville and the South Bronx, they are in Wall Street.”

Supervisors say the task forces’ regular duties, which include marshaling troublesome neighborhoods and staking out notorious nightclubs, are being supplanted due to the sheer numbers camped in Zuccotti Park.

“The city is going crazy with demonstrations and protests, and I’m lucky if I can get four cars out there,”  Ted Berntsen, commander of the 13th precinct in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood, said to the New York Post.

And while police say the protest is making New York more violent, A CBS News poll today found that 43% of Americans agree with the Occupy Wall Street movement’s views. Just 27% said they did not agree, while 30% were unsure.

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Jak Phillips is a contributor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @JakPhillips. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.