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Rap mogul Russell Simmons took a step back from the forefront of the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York on Thursday (17Nov11) as he tried to avoid arrest in order to attend hip-hop icon Heavy D’s funeral today.

The Def Jam Records co-founder has been a key supporter of the widespread Occupy movements calling for an end to corporate greed and he joined campaigners on Thursday as they marched in Manhattan’s Financial District as part of the global so-called Day of Action.

In a series of posts on his page, he wrote, “I have very bad feeling about the march on financial center. Police look really ready to fight… Prayers that this doesn’t get ugly. Please people non-violence.”

But Simmons decided to keep a slight distance from the more vocal demonstrators as they clashed with riot police so as not to land himself in trouble with cops – and risk having to skip Heavy D’s remembrance service.

Simmons later uploaded a photo showing a number of protesters who had been arrested during the demonstrations, and wrote, “These people going to jail!! God bless them”.

He continued, “my political director Michael Skolnik said I can’t get arrested cause I gotta go to heavy’s funeral… I loved that man and I would prefer not to go to jail. Heavy always looked out for me. Now he keeps me out of jail.”

Protesters called for the Day of Action to mark the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street campaign, which kickstarted the Occupy movement around the world.

Heavy D, who died last week (08Nov11), will be laid to rest in New York Today