Paul supports anti-Wall Street protests

Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R) offered support for some of the Occupy Wall Street protests that have built up in lower Manhattan over the weekend in an interview Friday with Reason magazine, where he also denounced the "militarization of our police forces."

"If they were demonstrating peacefully, and making a point, and arguing our case, and drawing attention to the Fed — I would say, good!" Paul said following a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire.

Paul has long been an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve, which he says manipulates American currency and is excessively secretive. 

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The Occupy Wall Street protesters have set up camp in Lower Manhattan for the past two weeks, railing against what they see as a system that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the rest of the American population. Their specific policy goals have yet to crystallize, partially because the protesters span a wide ideological spectrum — from civil libertarians like Paul, who denounce government intervention in the economic markets, to those who are urging politicians in Washington to take a more active role on behalf of the middle class.

Almost 1,000 protesters were arrested this weekend on the Brooklyn Bridge, and supporters have denounced what they believe to be police brutality during some of the arrests. 

Paul was asked by Reason about a report from last weekend in which an NYPD officer was caught on camera pepper-spraying protesters.

"I hadn't heard that, since I have to admit I didn't keep up on all the details of it," Paul said. "I didn't read the stories about it. But that means government doesn't like to be receiving any criticism at all. And my argument is, government should be in the open — the people's privacy ought to be protected. So I don't like it."

During the town hall, Paul denounced the "militarization" of police forces, specifically reports that the NYPD had obtained a weapon that would allow them to shoot down an airplane involved in a terrorist attack.

"Yeah, I have concern about that," Paul said. "That's not exactly your friendly policeman on the block to go to when you're in trouble. The militarization of our police force — the SWAT teams and all — I think it's a bad sign."

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