Retired Captain Ray Lewis served within the ranks of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Police Department for nearly a quarter of a century. Now he is at odds against the force’s higher ups, however, over his role with Occupy Wall Street.
Captain Lewis became a regular at protest and rallies since the infancy of the Occupy movement last year. Regularly donning his Philadelphia PD uniform, Lewis was caught at demonstrations across the country demanding for changes within the system. Speaking with RT, though, the 24-year veteran of the force says it hasn’t been easy.
After first involving himself with OWS, Lewis says he received a letter from the department condemning his uniformed protests. “They want to make sure that no other officers join me in promoting this Occupy movement,” he tells RT. According to the captain, the aesthetic of a uniformed officer rallying against the backbone of the law enforcement industry is the reason behind the department’s demands.
“It is my belief that they were pressured by corporate America, because the one sign I carry on a daily basis is to ask people to watch the documentary Inside Job,” says Lewis. “Inside Job is a scathing, indicting film of banks, specifically in the 2008 financial collapse, and anybody who watches that documentary will fully understand the corruption of our banks in this country.”
The ties between the police and the nation’s financial institutions might not be clear cut, but Lewis attests that it is certainly there.
“In Philadelphia, the Fraternal Order of Police — a lot of cops want to be the president of that union — and they have elections. And these elections are run just like any other political election: they are based on money. A lot of advertising goes into these elections and those cops don’t pay for that advertising out of their back pockets. This advertising is paid for by corporations, banks, financial institutions.
“Subsequently, when you are elected, you are beholden to those financial institutions. And when I come out condemning those financial institutions, if the president of the [union] wants to get continuing contributions, he better pay heed to the banks,” explains Lewis. Now, he says, his benefits with the Philly PD could be revoked if the department decides to pursue an investigation into his role with the protest movement.
Lewis says that the union’s response to his participation in the Occupy movement wasn’t exactly what he had expected. He tells RT he “was taken aback” when he received a letter in the mail from high higher-ups at the Fraternal Order of Police.
“They threatened me with having a hearing, perhaps to expel me,” he says. “I was surprised that they took that extent, without even giving me the courtesy of a phone call and finding out exactly what I was doing; what I was about.”
After going public with his grievances over his demands, Lewis was let off the hook — for now. He says that the way the department acted over his involvement with the Occupy movement should be a chilling wake up call to the rest of the country, though.
“When they come out and say what I’m doing is illegal or improper and give me an order to immediately cease and desist wearing my uniform…or they will take any and all unnecessary action to stop me, what’s so egregious about this is it sends the message to officers that they can violate people’s First Amendment rights,” he says.
Today Lewis says he has yet to be expelled but is still sure that the department will continue to investigate his role with OWS. As for the movement itself, he says he has no expectations but is still behind it 100 percent.
“It’s not going to do any good wondering where it’s going to go,” he says. “I’d rather spend my time and my positive energy on determining what path I can take, what can I do to further the goals of the movement.”