A retired Philadelphia police captain is blasting U.S. policing, calling it "an oppressive organization now controlled by the one-percent of corporate America."
Former Capt. Ray Lewis was in Ferguson, Mo., this week, demonstrating in uniform against the decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.
When asked why he had traveled to the mid-West to join the protest, Lewis gave this statement:
For one, I want to give the residents of Ferguson the knowledge there are some police that do support them. The second thing, I want to try to get a message to mainstream America that the system is corrupt, that police really are oppressing not only the black community, but also the whites.
They're an oppressive organization now controlled by the one percent of corporate America. Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries.
In an interview this morning with Philly.com, Lewis said his quotes were reported correctly and that he stood by his words.
Lewis flew to Missouri on Saturday, "because all indications were that it was going to end poorly and I had no doubt because of the way they were notifying police departments all over the country."
"The St. Louis police said they had no idea about the way the grand jury was going to rule," Lewis said. "That was an outright lie."
Lewis, who retired from the Philadelphia Police in 2004, has been in the limelight several times supporting policing reform. He was cited for disorderly conduct in New York City during Occupy Wall Street in 2011 for disregarding orders to move off the street. At the time he was dressed in his full police uniform.
He said that following his arrest, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey threatened to " take any and all necessary action to protect the integrity of the uniform" and John McNesby, president of FOP Lodge No. 5, vowed to have him arrested.
Lewis said he dismissed the commissioner's words as "thug language" and challenged Ramsey and McNesby to cite a law preventing him from wearing his uniform.
"I was highlighting the integrity of the uniform," Lewis said, "because I was sticking up for people who were being oppressed by the corporations and the government."
Once assigned to North Philadelphia districts, Lewis said he joined the police department to become a patrol officer "because that's where you have daily interaction with people."
He retired after 24 years on the street, pulled up stakes and moved to the Catskills in New York. For eight years he lived "a very Walden-esque life style." In 2011, he read about the Occupy movement, read their declaration of 23 bullet points and decided he agreed with everyone of them.
Lewis then watched the documentary "Inside Job" which he said solidified his new outlook.
"It showed how the system is corrupt to the bone," he said.
The major problem with policing in the United States begins before an officer is hired, he said. Every recruit is put through a battery of tests, including the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test which is supposed to assess psychological fitness.
"One of the aspects of a personality is a degree of sensitivity and compassion," he said. "Unfortunately, they do not hire those people that score high on sensitivity. They reject them believing those people will quit because they can't handle the blood and guts on the street. They view that as wasted training money.
"What they don't realize is that hiring the insensitive individual is going to result in brutality cases, and when those cases go to court, that's where they lose millions," Lewis said. "It's pennywise and pound foolish."