Ex-cop’s uniform an Occupy no-no, Ramsey says

Posted: December 08, 2011

A retired city police captain who's been wearing his uniform to Occupy Wall Street was given written notice by Commissioner Ramsey and the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police that they do not support his protest attire.

If FOP President John McNesby has his way, the retired captain, Ray Lewis, a 24-year veteran, will be kicked out of the FOP and lose his retirement benefits.

"I champion him for going up there and pleading his case but he shouldn't have done it in a police uniform," McNesby said. "When he put the freaking uniform on is when he crossed the f---ing line."

Lewis, now of upstate New York, retired eight years ago and joined the Occupy Wall Street protest Nov. 15.

And he said did so in his full uniform because it'd be harder for the media to marginalize him to mainstream America.

Two days after he joined the movement, Lewis was arrested on his 60th birthday for disorderly conduct and related offenses when he sat in the middle of Wall Street with other protesters.

Recently, Lewis, who is back in Zuccotti Park in uniform, got separate letters from Ramsey and the FOP. The first told him to cease and desist wearing a uniform, the later said a motion regarding his conduct was referred to the FOP's grievance committee for "appropriate action."

In his letter, Ramsey said Lewis' conduct was "disrespectful."

"Police officers take pride in being that independent third party and not taking sides," Ramsey said today. "He is giving the appearance that that's not the case in Philadelphia, and it is the case in Philadelphia."

Ramsey said it's not about the issues, it's about wearing the Philadelphia police uniform while acting as a protester.

"A lot of people, myself included, are concerned about a lot of issues," Ramsey said. "The point is, when do I say 'No, you can't do that.' Do I wait until someone is at a Klan rally?"

However, Ramsey admitted there's not a lot he can do.

"We put him formally on notice," he said. "Should the NYPD or any other department feel he's impersonating an officer then we certainly would not stand in the way of those charges."

But McNesby is hoping that the FOP can do something.

"I hope they come back with expulsion and kick him permanently from the FOP," McNesby said.

Lewis said he found the letters "disgusting."

"It's purely bullying and intimidation tactics and I am profoundly disappointed," he said. "You are not going to intimidate me."

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