Viral video star Danny “Lotion Man” Cline was removed from the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park by police early this morning and taken to New York Downtown Hospital for a psychological evaluation following days of allegedly disturbing behavior and an incident where he allegedly forcibly hugged a female protester and threw himself on top of someone’s tent. Footage of Mr. Cline has been used by conservative media outlets eager to show “the dark side of the Occupy Wall Street protests.”
Mr. Cline, who describes himself as “The Lotion Man” gained notoriety early last month when he was spotted by a writer for the National Review Online who filmed him hurling anti-Semitic taunts at a yarmulke-clad man in Zuccotti Park. A group called Emergency Committee for Israel, which was co-founded by conservative pundit Bill Kristol, subsequently used the footage in a commercial made to paint the protests as anti-Semitic.
Mr. Cline was first discovered in September by Bob Hain (a.k.a. Normal Bob Smith), who regularly videotapes people in Union Square. Mr. Hain captured footage of Mr. Cline running through the Square, slathering sunscreen on himself, piercing his tongue with an earring, starting fights with another man and repeatedly shouting the N-word. Last month, Mr. Hain also filmed Mr. Cline in Zuccotti Park.
“I met Matt Broderick, and Susan Sarandon, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Moore. They know the Lotion Man, they know me. Listen, I run this park. You know how I do in Union, I do it here better,” Mr. Cline said of his time at Occupy Wall Street.
Various videos featuring Mr. Cline have amassed over 130,000 views on YouTube.
Late Sunday night, the Observer spotted Mr. Cline running through Zuccotti Park with his pants falling well below his waist exposing a pair of pink briefs. He wore a Mets jacket over his naked chest and ran through the park falling on tents and yelling at protesters. At approximately 3 a.m. Monday morning, we witnessed a commotion on the South side of the park. We walked over and found Mr. Cline sitting on the ground across the street from the park surrounded by eleven police officers. The cops asked Mr. Cline if he had taken any drugs and explained they were sending him to the hospital.
“They’re the ones who’ve got a problem with me, I don’t have a problem,” Mr. Cline told us pointing toward the other protesters in the park.
Mr. Cline repeatedly asked the police officers to give him a cigarette. They declined.
“It’s supposed to be a quiet Sunday, you’re ruining my Sunday,” one of the officers said to Mr. Cline as she lit a cigarette for herself.
After the police put Mr. Cline on an ambulance, we asked the protesters what had transpired. A man who said his name was Cody told us Mr. Cline jumped on top of his tent several times while he was sleeping. Another man, who said he was part of Occupy Wall Street’s security team and declined to give his name, told us the situation began after Mr. Cline “came up and wrapped his arms around a girl and said, ‘I’d like to kiss you.’” According to the security team member, he was attempting to calm Mr. Cline when they were both knocked on top of Cody’s tent.
Several of the protesters said Mr. Cline had been a problematic presence in the park for quite some time.
“That guy’s been disruptive for three days, he’s not part of the movement,” a protester named Frank Grove said.
“He exposes his genitalia and also he did it in front of a ten-year-old the other day. He’s usually intoxicated,” a woman named Kimberly told us.
A source with the NYPD told the Observer Mr. Cline was not arrested and is “in the care of the hospital.”
“He was just creating somewhat of a disturbance and psychological evaluation needed to be conducted due to his mannerisms,” the source said.