‘Occupy’ Police Capt. Ray Lewis Comes Back to Philly to Set Record Straight
Former Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis, who became a prominent face in the Occupy Wall Street movement last year, stood on the North side of City Hall for a few hours yesterday next to a sign which read, “To understand us, watch ‘Inside Job,’ Free online; a film about Corporate Greed, not 9/11.’”
“I want to let people know that if they want to understand me and the Occupy movement, to watch Inside Job,” he told PW when we stopped by to talk with him. “Then and only then would I be interested in hearing the condemnation about what this movement is about.”
Inside Job is the 2010 Oscar winner for Best Documentary. It chronicles the financial crisis of 2008 and lays a bulk of the blame on big banks.
Lewis, who currently resides in the Catskill Mountains of northern New York State, became famous for wearing his police uniform while being arrested for civil disobedience during Occupy Wall Street. He set out to inform the world that police and firefighters are part of what has been dubbed “the 99 Percent,” and told PW he never expected to be met in Zuccotti Park “with such gratitude.”
Shortly thereafter, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey sent a public cease-and-desist letter to Lewis, saying that he had no “authority or license, express or limited, to wear the official uniform of the Philadelphia Police Department, any official badges, including personally owned facsimiles thereof,” and that if he continued to do so, “I am prepared to take any and all necessary actions to protect the honor and integrity of the Philadelphia Police Department.”
Lewis was in full police uniform yesterday. He was on hand with a stapled packet of documents which included his letter from Ramsey, a letter from Fraternal Order of Police Philadelphia Lodge #5 Recording Secretary Robert Ballentine, a print of a Philadelphia Daily News article chronicling the ordeal and the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. The story of Lewis’ police uniform has been documented well by several news sources.
“There are 23 bullet points on here,” he said of the Declaration, “and I agree with every single one of them.” He noted that those who say Occupy doesn’t stand for anything should take a look at the Declaration, as well.
He said he knew full well what wearing the police uniform at the protest would be seen as. “I realized the uniform would be a magnate, because it’d never been done before,” he said. Wearing it was a symbol of “someone in the establishment saying, ‘yes, this is wrong, what corporate America is doing.” He believes his presence helped ward off the notion that the protests were full of nothing but “dirty hippies.”
As for the letters from Ramsey and the FOP, he called it “thuggery, pure and simple,” noting Ramsey issues a threat in the letter, though not a specifically legal one. “That is pure thug language and he did this without any legal basis.” Lewis admitted he never replied to the letters. “To reply to them would have empowered them,” he said.