Cornel West Among Protestors Arrested in Ferguson

By Albert Lin

Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Professor Cornel West was among a dozen or so protesters arrested in Ferguson, Mo., on Monday during a demonstration outside of Ferguson Police Department headquarters. This demonstration was one of a larger group of demonstrations, dubbed Ferguson October, against police violence in the embattled area. Unarmed Black teen Michael Brown was killed by Ferguson PD officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.

The New York Times described the scene as “tense” but said the arrests were “relatively calm.” The 600-person group, including a number of religious leaders, wanted to enter the building to meet with police officials, but were prevented from doing so by a line of uniformed officers. They said they were prepared to be arrested if they were not granted an audience.

West told officers standing guard outside the building, “We’re here because we love the young folks, and we’re gonna bear witness. We want them to know there’s an older generation, brothers and sisters of all colors, who are willing put their bodies on the line, so that justice can roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Watch video of West’s statements here:

Prior to the arrests, the Times reports that the outline of a body was drawn on the ground, to represent Michael Brown, as protesters chanted, “Black lives matter! All lives matter.” Charges were not revealed.

At least three separate demonstrations took place on Monday, including the one resulting in West’s arrest. The Times reports that Ferguson October leaders have been vague about their plans, except to say that they would follow a strategy used in North Carolina starting last year, with weekly protests in response to actions by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Earlier Monday, starting after midnight, West was part of a sit-in on the campus of St. Louis University following an hour-plus-long march along Grand Boulevard. This demonstration started near the home of Vonderrit Myers Jr., the 18-year-old Black teen who was shot to death last week by an off-duty white police officer. Myers’ father works at SLU. A protest organizer told the crowd, “We are here to destroy systematic racism and white supremacy.”

On Sunday, West had participated in two other rallies: one dubbed Hip Hop 4 Justice and an interfaith service at Chaifetz Arena on the SLU campus.

West, an author of 19 books and a professor in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University, describes himself as a “champion for racial justice” in his Twitter description. He spoke about race and values at a DiversityInc event in 2012. See his talk below.

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