Retired PPD Captain (And Occupy Wall Street Protester) Ray Lewis Won’t Take Off His Uniform


As we reported earlier today, both Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and the Philly F.O.P. have demanded that retired PPD captain Ray Lewis—who has been among the protesters at Occupy Wall Street in New York City since mid-November—stop wearing his old police uniform at Occupy demonstrations.

But the 60-year-old Lewis, born and raised in the Holmesburg section of Northeast Philly, insists he won’t be bullied, even if his retirement benefits could be at risk. When PW recently caught up with him at Zuccotti Park, Lewis said that wearing his uniform was a crucial public statement he wasn’t about to abandon.

“I noticed the 1% trying to marginalize these Occupiers as out of the mainstream of America,” he said. “They were trying to tell mainstream Americans, ‘These are not your type, you can’t associate with them, their concerns are not your concerns,’ so they interviewed the guys with the pink hair and the tattoos and all of that. I realized what they were doing so I said, ‘I’m coming down there and I challenge Wall Street to marginalize me.’”

Since retiring from the PPD in 2004 after a 24-year career as a cop, Lewis and his wife have lived on a farm in the Catskills, which he said he’s in the process of turning into a nature preserve. “It’s very secluded—like a Thoreau Walden Pond thing—and I did not have any intention of coming back, but [the Occupy movement] is so overwhelming of a need, I was driven.”

Lewis arrived in New York City on the evening of Monday, Nov. 14—just hours before the NYPD forcibly evicted Zuccotti Park campers in the early morning hours of Nov. 15. Lewis wasn’t at the site when the raid occurred, but came the next morning to find the park empty.

“I was shocked,” said Lewis. “I was shocked that there was not more negotiation. “You never lose with more negotiation. This was all Mayor Bloomberg. This had nothing to do with [NYPD] Commissioner Ray Kelly, this had nothing to do with the white shirts. Mayor Bloomberg is the 14th richest person in this country. A man like that should not even have power. It was his decision. Bloomberg had all the time in the world to plan out the [eviction]. To come up with that operation was a disgrace.”

That’s when he decided to don his old uniform in solidarity with Occupy Wall Streeters protesting the eviction. On Nov. 17th (his 60th birthday), Lewis, in uniform, was arrested during a demonstration in Wall Street where he and others sat down in the street and refused to move, and was charged with disorderly conduct.

“Everything I saw that day, I would love to have had any of those officers working for me,” he says of the arresting NYPD officers. “What I saw, it was exemplary, professional conduct.”

Cease-and-desist letters from Commissioner Ramsey and the F.O.P. aside, Lewis said that he hasn’t been in contact with a single person from the PPD since he retired. “When I moved [to the Catskills] I was totally out of touch with everybody, and that was my choosing. I’m basically a loner, and I like the seclusion.”

Still, he said, his involvement with the Occupy movement shouldn’t have come as a shock to his old colleagues. “My orientation [as a police officer] was always empathy with people who were suffering,” said Lewis, who explained that he worked as a cab driver, factory worker and, after getting a B.A. in psychology, as an assistant therapist in Doylestown before joining the PPD for what he called “my most fulfilling job, where every single day you can go into disadvantaged neighborhoods and have a real, positive impact on people’s lives.”

Lewis said that while he had no plans to “do anything illegal” and face another arrest, he also had no intentions of taking off his uniform and protesting in civilian clothes.

Noting the mixed response from NYPD officers—ranging from subtle nods or winks to scowls and disdainful comments—to his uniformed protest, and acknowledging the criticism he’s received from some cops around the country, Lewis insisted that wearing his old uniform wasn’t a sign of disrespect but rather a way to demonstrate that the police are part of the 99%, too.

“I am supporting them,” he said. “All of them. Most of them don’t know it now, but hopefully, eventually, they will realize that I was fully in support of them.”

[Photo by Michael Alan Goldberg]

26 Responses to “ Retired PPD Captain (And Occupy Wall Street Protester) Ray Lewis Won’t Take Off His Uniform ”

  1. Raymond Lewis is my Hero.

    We respect him.

    He is The true American Police Officer.

  2. adam says:

    Thank You Raymond Lewis.

  3. An Ominous says:

    Captain Ray Lewis, You Are My Hero (salutes)!

  4. Joe says:

    He gets it.

  5. Kathy says:

    It is so wonderful when Americans respect the protected rights the constitution affords other Americans, I love the constitution and the bill of rights beyond words. I wish all Americans felt the same. Ray Lewis regards the rule of law it would appear and does not pay homage to the mayors lack of comprehension or threats to his retirement by subversive elements. To understand how American government is meant to govern just read the bill of rights. The Constitution is our method to ensure the bill of rights is safeguarded and we can act successfully independent of banks and crowns and mayors. Good on Ray!

  6. bcvagabonds says:

    Wow – what a testimony to this movement’s claim of representing ALL persons.

    Recently, I posted a statement on arguing that the OWS movement should exclude the paramilitary from its “99% inclusion”. It was my position that the police’s “brotherhood of the blue” elite status insulates them, as individuals, from the injustices, poverty and corruption the rest of us endure; that these “soldiers” are there to do the “heavy lifting” for the 1%; and to assume that they are part of the 99% was a dangerous assumption that would come back to bite the OWS in the backside. In light of Ray Lewis’ position, I find myself re-thinking this argument. Thank-you, Ray – I love it when humanity’s better side reaches the light of day, and proves my cynicism wrong. Now, how can we convince the rest of the police that their interests are represented, too?

  7. Andrea says:

    I met Ray at Zucotti Park after seeing pictures of his arrest by the NYPD, and I thanked him for being there, for taking a stand. There is another former Philadelphia cop who would be out with the occupy movement if he were still alive. Major General Smedley Butler was the Philadelphia Director of Public Safety in 1924 and 25. Almost ten years later he was in Washington DC encouraging the “Bonus Army” encamped at Anacostia to stay their ground until they were given the bonus for service in WWI that they had been promised and deserved. So Ray Lewis is part of a small but honorable tradition.

  8. Betty Donnelly says:

    I see Cops in Uniform at Parades Funerals ect. How can they threaten his Pension ?

  9. Rene Vasquez says:

    As former Police Office and Deputy Sheriff, I commend you and your position.

  10. Laura Anne Gilman says:

    Respect, sir.

  11. Sandra Needham says:

    Thank you, officer.

  12. Spike Rogan says:

    The part of the threats toward Captain Lewis that tick me off the most, is his own Union’s. Any other union defends members regardless of political views. BUT not the FOP it seems. If you don’t support the GOP the FOP will lynch you.

    I found the rude president of the Philly FOP on Facebook. (who made an obscene remark tot he Philly Daily News about Lewis)

    John McNesby is the President of the Philadelphia FOP, his facebook page also shows he supports a Republican state rep. (shocking, not sarcasm!)

    I sent him a message via Facebook letting him know he is a disgrace to Union members and highly unprofessional.

    Here is McNesby’s Facebook page, please feel free to send him messages of support for Captain Lewis.

  13. Harry Chives says:

    Captain Lewis is a true American. If they mess with his pension they just prove his point. Respect the right to peaceably assemble. Respect the right to civil disobedience. Respect the right to publicly add his credentials, in the impressive guise of his uniform, to the voice of this important protest. Courage, brothers and sisters.

  14. Dallas says:

    Hey Raymond , thanks brother.

  15. suki says:

    Thank you, THANK YOU, Captain Lewis.
    May you inspire other officers to join you.

  16. JerryT says:

    Just goes to show the Power of One..

    Officer Lewis deserves a Bronze Statue.

  17. cheryl bray says:

    “I am supporting them,” he said. “All of them. Most of them don’t know it now, but hopefully, eventually, they will realize that I was fully in support of them.”
    What a true statement. There is no doubt that some day people will look back on the Occupy Movement and realize that they personally benefited from those sacrifices…

    But to get to that point, we need to do a much better job of explaining to everyone how “Occupy” affects them personally; how we are all in the same boat on health care, upside down mortgages and declining home values, educational quality, unemployment, etc…We would be better served explaining the linkage between Wall Street excesses and Corporate Welfare and mainstreet, rather than using divisive “us vs. them” language. Setting this up as a rich vs. poor, “us vs. them” dichotomy really narrows the focus unnecessarily in my opinion…Yes, it has started a very relevant conversation and movement. I am grateful for that. The “the occupy” verbiage translates really well. Butthe 99% vs. 1% is divisive as it is “an us vs. them” construct. More than half of the people in the 99% group have been brainwashed to support the values of the 1% group without even realizing it…This post is getting too long…I really am trying to be constructive. I love this site!
    Remember, the U.S. has been brainwashed for decades…Most have no clue why people are protesting

  18. Rich Buckley says:

    Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey was appointed by Philly Mayor Michael Nutter. Nutter is sensitive to the Occupy Movement. Put heat on the good Mayor’s office for the benefit of Officer Lewis and it will help cool Ramsey.

    Officer Lewis’s speaks truth to power and to the Movement. It would be a colossal abuse of power to go after an honest cop’s pension, an abuse great enough to turn a mayor out of office.

  19. DSJ says:

    That’s what a cop should look like! Thank you, Sir.

  20. Stephen E. Williams says:

    Having grown up with Ray in Philadelphia, I know him from a somewhat different angle. Back when he and I were still the best of friends — or so I thought — I began encountering all sorts of corruption in various jobs I held and tried to take a stand against them only to wind up blacklisted. And Ray could not have been more unsympathetic than he was. With the loss of that friendship, and any further prospects for employment, what greatly helped keep me afloat as human being during that period was Philadelphia’s parks, the only place I could go to regain any sense of humanity. At the time Ray left Philadelphia to go off to retirement in Upstate New York, the city of Philadelphia began looking to such things as selling off its park lands to private interests to raise money to keep the generous police pension plan going. With tight budget constraints something had to give somewhere. And so here became a case of the city selling off its public parks so Ray could hold on to his private one. What it means is that Ray might look virtuous on the surface, but you have to look deeper than that, folks, to see what is actually what with him. He claims to be taking a stance against corruption, but let it be said it gets no corrupter than this.

    Our country is supposed to about FREEDOM, people, not our freedom getting trashed so people like Ray can have things all to themselves while we all get shut out, and pay for what Ray has atop all that — with the loss of our public lands and the taxes we’re ordered to pay and which do not benefit us in any way. Ray knows this, of course. But it’s important that you the people know this so you don’t get duped, as so many of you clearly were in this instance.

  21. Amy Greenberg says:

    Folks, this Stephen E Williams is a right-wing troll. I have been following him for several years. He also goes under the moniker, “Wish I Were Rich.” Enough said!

  22. Ron Ortega says:

    Yo stephen e williams, thanks for the inside scoop. Now I hate this guy. HAHAHA! You’re the one who attended the Holmesburg Civic Association and Burholme Park meetings. Trust me, you’re well known as a WHACK JOB !

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  24. [...] Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis, wh&#959 became a prominent face &#1110n th&#1077 Occupy Wall Street movement last year, stood &#959n th&#1077 North side &#959f City Hall f&#959r a few hours yesterday next [...]

  25. 234234 says:

    This sentence is ridiculous on several levels. Anyone has a right to post anything they want here that isn’t in conflict with the TOS. The site also doesn’t have Modulators, to my knowledge. Try looking up words when you don’t know what they mean–there’s no shame n trying to learn a new language, and the sense of accomplishment you’ll have when you’ve actually mastered English will be worth the effort.

    Twig Jul 1, 11, 09:25AM | #26
    This sentence is ridiculous on several levels. Anyone has a right to post anything they want here that isn’t in conflict with the TOS. The site also doesn’t have Modulators, to my knowledge. Try looking up words when you don’t know what they mean–there’s no shame n trying to learn a new language, and the sense of accomplishment you’ll have when you’ve actually mastered English will be worth the effort.

    Shut the hell up, housefly.

    pheelyks Jul 1, 11, 09:34AM | #27
    Shut the hell up, housefly.

    Is housefly a big insult in Kenya?

    WritersBeware Jul 1, 11, 10:31AM | #28
    you are not the Modulator


    Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulator

    craftywriter Jul 2, 11, 01:50AM | #29
    Pheelyks, what happened here

    MeoKhan Writer Jul 2, 11, 01:01PM | #30

  26. Jack says:

    3dinfo Jun 29, 11, 12:59AM | #18
    Oh WritersBeware Twig

    limited not scamming

    pheelyks Jun 29, 11, 07:18AM | #19
    limited not scamming

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    Twig Jun 30, 11, 02:07PM | #20
    limited not scamming

    Ha ha ha..

    pheelyks Jun 30, 11, 03:03PM | #21
    limited not scamming

    Ha ha ha..

    You add absolutely nothing of value to this forum. Unless you can change that, please leave.

    Twig Jun 30, 11, 10:11PM | #22
    please leave.

    Keep on dreaming.

    pheelyks Jun 30, 11, 11:00PM | #23
    Keep on dreaming.

    You do realize this doesn’t actually make sense in context, right?

    Twig Jul 1, 11, 04:45AM | #24
    ou do realize this doesn’t actually make sense in context, right

    I am sick of your constant attacks. They are seemingly insane. But you know what? You have no right to persist with them since you confessed you are not the Modulator.

    pheelyks Jul 1, 11, 09:19AM | #25
    I am sick of your constant attacks.

    Stop making useless posts here and I’ll stop “attacking.”
    You have no right to persist with them since you confessed you are not the Modulator.

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