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In Uniform at Protests, and in Trouble as a Result

Al Baker, New York Times
Among the more colorful protesters to emerge from Occupy Wall Street was a uniformed former police commander from the Philadelphia police. His name is Ray Lewis, and, after retiring as a captain in 2004 after 24 years of service, he became active in the world of social justice.

To New York City officers, his uniform was curious. It seemingly made him one of them, though his actions caused him to be arrested on Nov. 17, the movement’s “day of action,” in an episode captured in widely viewed videos.

Mr. Lewis is facing charges in New York, but his actions also have him in trouble with law enforcement officers in Philadelphia: the police commissioner there and Mr. Lewis’s police union have taken issue with his actions.

The commissioner, Charles H. Ramsey, told Mr. Lewis in a letter dated Nov. 23 “to immediately cease and desist wearing, using or otherwise displaying any official Philadelphia Police Department uniform, badges or facsimiles thereof or any official departmental insignia.”

… For his part, Mr. Lewis, who turned 60 the day of his arrest, said he found the correspondences to be “threatening.” He said he wrote back to both letters with a simple message: “You’re not going to bully me.”

Mr. Lewis, who lives upstate, a few hours northwest of Zuccotti Park, said he joined the Occupy movement “because I have a strong conviction that this country is being destroyed by corporate America.”

“Corporate America is just raping the people and the land of this country,” he said, “and when I saw the people at Zuccotti Park they inspired me to come down and join them. Their convictions were so strong, and they lined up perfectly with what I believed for years.”
(8 December 2011)

My Occupy LA Arrest

Patrick Meighan, My Occupy LA Arrest
My name is Patrick Meighan, and I’m a husband, a father, a writer on the Fox animated sitcom “Family Guy”, and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica.

I was arrested at about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning with 291 other people at Occupy LA. I was sitting in City Hall Park with a pillow, a blanket, and a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Being Peace” when 1,400 heavily-armed LAPD officers in paramilitary SWAT gear streamed in. I was in a group of about 50 peaceful protestors who sat Indian-style, arms interlocked, around a tent (the symbolic image of the Occupy movement). The LAPD officers encircled us, weapons drawn, while we chanted “We Are Peaceful” and “We Are Nonviolent” and “Join Us.”

… When the LAPD finally began arresting those of us interlocked around the symbolic tent, we were all ordered by the LAPD to unlink from each other (in order to facilitate the arrests). Each seated, nonviolent protester beside me who refused to cooperate by unlinking his arms had the following done to him: an LAPD officer would forcibly extend the protestor’s legs, grab his left foot, twist it all the way around and then stomp his boot on the insole, pinning the protestor’s left foot to the pavement, twisted backwards. Then the LAPD officer would grab the protestor’s right foot and twist it all the way the other direction until the non-violent protestor, in incredible agony, would shriek in pain and unlink from his neighbor.

It was horrible to watch, and apparently designed to terrorize the rest of us. At least I was sufficiently terrorized. I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.
(9 December 2011)

Russian Vote Wrath Swells Protests as Putin Blames Clinton

Scott Rose and Lyubov Pronina, Business Week
Russian anger over fraud allegations in last week’s elections may swell a demonstration to the biggest in Moscow since Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rose to power more than a decade ago.

More than 20,000 people may gather tomorrow in the city center to demand fair elections, according to Solidarity, the opposition group organizing the rallies. Authorities today boosted the maximum size of the protest to 30,000 from 300.

The ruble has dropped for seven days and Russia’s credit risk has risen the most among emerging markets since the demonstrations started, threatening to weaken Putin’s bid to return to the Kremlin in a presidential contest in March. Putin said yesterday that the protesters had been emboldened by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticizing the vote.

… A map on Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine, showed the locations of planned protests in more than 120 cities around the country and abroad, with links to pages on social networking site Vkontakte for details of each event.
(9 December 2011)

Putin Contends Clinton Incited Unrest Over Vote

David M. Herszenhorn and Ellen Barry, New York Times
Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday of inciting unrest in Russia, as he grappled with the prospect of large-scale political protest for the first time in his more than decade-long rule.

… All day on Thursday, protest organizers negotiated to secure permission for the event from the Moscow authorities, who proposed that it be relocated to Bolotny Square, an island connected to the Kremlin by bridges. A police spokesman released a statement in response to a message that had gone out over social networks stating, “If 5,000 people go out on the street, they will be dispersed; if 50,000 go out, the police will stand silently; and if 500,000 go out, then the police will take their side.”

… Mr. Putin’s assertion that Mrs. Clinton had prejudged Sunday’s vote seemed unfounded

… Mrs. Clinton, traveling in Europe, did not address Mr. Putin directly on Thursday and said Washington valued the bilateral relationship.

“At the same time, the United States and many others around the world have a strong commitment to democracy and human rights,” she continued. “It’s part of who we are. It’s our values. And we expressed concerns that we thought were well founded about the conduct of the elections. And we are supportive of the rights and aspirations of the Russian people to be able to make progress and to realize a better future for themselves, and we hope to see that unfold in the years ahead.”

The White House on Thursday reiterated its concerns. “When rights are violated in Russia or another country, we speak out,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.
(8 December 2011)