Occupy Congress in pictures

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Police Captain Ray Lewis at Occupy Congress

Occupiers surrounded retired Philadelphia police Captain Ray Lewis on the West Lawn of the Capitol this afternoon at Occupy Congress. Many thanked him profusely for his support of the movement.

Captain Lewis received much attention when he was arrested on November 17, 2011 during an Occupy Wall Street protest. He criticized Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD for their handling of the protests and forceful tactics in evicting OWS from Zuccotti Park.

Dressed in his police uniform and sunglasses, Captain Lewis chatted with attendees and took pictures with them as the wind blew across the muddy West Lawn. He offered candid opinions and full-throated support of Occupy.

“I am here to further show solidarity with the Occupy movement,” emphasizing that by attending he sought publicity for Occupy and not for himself. “I am in full agreement with the declarative statements [of Occupy Wall Street] as posted online,” he said.

There had already been two confrontations with Capitol police earlier in the day. Many protestors were openly antagonistic. I asked him what he thought when he heard them yell, “Fuck the police!”

“I fully understand,” he said. “They are so sensitive to evil and corruption in government. They tried working within the system and with Obama.”

He continued by harshly assessing President Obama. Following Obama’s election, “What did we get? One of the biggest political betrayals in history. He’s nowhere near the president he said he would be.” He added, “He’s nothing more than a black George W. Bush.”

He praised all the alternative media arising from the Occupy movement and stressed the necessity of bypassing mainstream media. “What you’re doing is so important,” he said. “We didn’t have this during the Vietnam War.”

Occupy Congress rallies on West Lawn, marches to Rayburn Building

Occupy Congress, the first protest on a national level attempted by the Occupy movement, gathered on the West Lawn on the National Mall today eager to assert itself as the new Congressional session began.

A well-practiced human mic repeated the words “Welcome to DC and welcome to Occupy Congress!” at the General Assembly at noon.

Capitol Police were out in force and clearly prepared for the protest, which may not have drawn as many people as the 5,000 or so the organizers had anticipated. Occupiers danced and celebrated, but they seemed eager to confront police.

As protestors moved up toward the North side of the Capitol, officers eased them back down the hill, resulting in a long stand-off along the walkway. At least one protestor was arrested.

After Congress adjourned for the afternoon, the Occupiers organized into a march behind large waving flags and processed to the Rayburn Building where the offices of House members are located.

A large protest and rally is planned for 6pm and the Capitol.

Occupy Congress gets permit to protest January 17

On Thursday Occupy Congress obtained a permit from Capitol Police to demonstrate on Capitol grounds on January 17, giving the greenlight to the protest affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Still of some concern is the recent transfer of “Union Square,” the area around the reflecting pool on the west side of the Capitol, from the jurisdiction of the National Parks Service to the Capitol Police. First Amendment demonstration rights have been litigated with National Park Police over many decades, while Capitol Police are more “arbitrary and restrictive.”

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