Retired Philadelphia Police Capt. Ray Lewis, who gained national attention with his defiant, in-uniform protest and subsequent arrest at Occupy Wall Street, made his first appearance with Occupy Philly on Monday afternoon.
Lewis, 60, had been chastised in letters from Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and the Fraternal Order of Police after he was arrested in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park on Nov. 17, wearing his old uniform.
Again donning his uniform Monday on Independence Mall, Lewis asserted his right to free speech, calling his choice of clothing a "visual symbol" of the 24 years he devoted to police work.
"I will not idly stand by while law enforcement is administered only to the poor and disenfranchised while the rich flaunt their immunity," Lewis told a crowd of 40 occupiers and reporters gathered near a stone engraved with the First Amendment.
His address was part of a daylong Occupy event promoting freedom of speech that peaked with a march to the Comcast Center to submit a petition for the company to carry Al-Jazeera English.
He revved up the crowd before it proceeded down Market Street, even eliciting a "We love you, captain!" shout-out. He referred those who doubted his positions on corporate corruption to the Charles Ferguson documentary Inside Job.
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Bravo officer. I wish more of there were out there like you to take a stand within the police force. I wonder why he was criticized for taking part in the protest by his superiors? Do police not have the same rights? Or does that portray a "bad image" on the police force if they stand up for what they believe in?