Danny says OcPo's mission is to give men and women like Shavies "a place to speak, and to create peace and solidarity between the two groups so they can combine and make real political change." For proof that those ideas have gained traction, he points to one of the Occupy movement's defining moments: the November 17 arrest of former Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis. Retired for eight years and living in the Catskills, on November 14 — after weeks of reading about people who were standing up to corporate entities that he too deplores — Lewis became inspired to join forces with OWS protesters.
The arrest of Lewis, on the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, hit the press like a billy club. Though more than 300 were bagged by NYPD on the same day, the images of him being cuffed in full police uniform — and news of his being subsequently slapped with charges including disorderly conduct — put Lewis front and center. With the world watching, he showed compassion for fellow men and women of the law. "Corporate America is using police departments as hired thugs," Lewis told MSNBC. "I was trying to portray the message that they should not become mercenaries — not that they already were. . . . Cops are just as human as everyone else."
'A HUGE STATEMENT'
With more and more examples of police benevolence to counter the tragedies that have unfolded in their clashes with Occupiers, Danny's latest push is to bring OcPo off the Web and onto the front lines. With Operation SHIELD, he's collaborating with the similarly themed Occupy Marine Corps (OMC) to recruit "an organized and very transparent group of men and -women who will have the guts to step up in between the protesters and the police and create a gridlock." Logistics are still being drawn up, but Danny believes that his growing networks can support such interrupter actions.
According to Todd Gitlin, an author, Columbia professor, and veteran activist who has closely watched social movements — including Occupy Wall Street — over the past several decades, Operation SHIELD is a historically unique concept. But while "police were the hardest nut to crack in the late '60s and '70s," Gitlin says the impact of servicemen and women speaking out against wars has always been powerful. "Whenever somebody acts out of the character imputed to them, it's a huge statement," he says. "What it did for the morale of the [anti-war] movement was assure people that they were not wholly isolated, and that theirs is not just a matter of piety or moral righteousness — that it was a reasonable position that reasonable people could sign up for."
Recent examples all across the country have so far proven that such phenomena endure. When police raided Occupy Boston, the prevalent emerging image was that of a member of the group Veterans for Peace being arrested while his American flag was trampled. In Oakland, outrage ensued following reports that Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was assaulted with a can of tear gas. In building Operation SHIELD, Danny has connected with all of these emblematic entities, including Marine Corps Sergeant Shamar Thomas. A hulking presence, Thomas, who has been deployed to Iraq more than a dozen times, famously blocked NYPD from arresting protesters during a march into Times Square on October 15. In the moment, Shamar expressed what could be considered the rallying sentiment behind OcPo and Operation SHIELD.