Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons is urging New York authorities to "practise restraint" as they police the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests, because the majority of campaigners are "non-violent children".
The rap icon has been a staunch supporter of the rally, which has seen thousands of demonstrators take to the streets to call for social equality and an end to corporate greed, and he has been a key presence at the group's base in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park.
Simmons insists most of the people he has met have been peaceful protesters, and not the angry rioters some U.S. media outlets are portraying them as, following clashes with cops over the weekend (15-16Oct11), when a number of demonstrators were arrested.
He tells WENN, "You have 20,000 people (in the rally) and you arrest 50, it's not that bad. But I would say, they're really sweet, non-violent children. (There's) no reason to arrest them, and I think that the police could practise a little more restraint, although I know it's very tough, (but) they can look at those kids and know that they're not violent.
"You haven't been in the middle of the park, hung out with those kids. They're meditating, playing music. They are very sweet, compassionate, politically astute; it's not a mob scene as some of the media is characterising it (as)... They know what they want. They're at Wall Street for a reason..."
Simmons believes it may soon be time for U.S. President Barack Obama to address the protesters in person and pay a visit to Zuccotti Park - and he may be surprised by what he finds.
He adds, "Every sign (held by the protesters) has been (campaigning for) something that's come from the President's mouth, so he should identify with them. It may be too early to go (and meet Wall Street protesters) but he may have to go. I wouldn't say he has to go now - none of the other politicians have had the balls to go..."
Many of the activists involved in the Occupy Wall Street campaign have been left unemployed and homeless by the recession and subsequent economic downturn, and the initiative has since spread to more than 70 cities across the U.S. and in countries like the U.K. and Italy.