West GS ’80: ‘I’m having a wonderful time ... getting arrested.’
Currently on sabbatical, West has been crisscrossing the country to speak and appear at various public events. He seems busier than ever, appearing at speaking engagements, Occupy protests and his weekly radio show.
But he’s not complaining.
“I’m having a wonderful time reading and writing and speaking and getting arrested,” West said.
In mid-October, West was arrested twice in the same week at two different Occupy Wall Street protests. He was first arrested in Washington, D.C., while protesting with Stop the Machine on the steps of Supreme Court.
After spending a night in jail, West was released the next day and the charges against him were dropped.
Five days later, on Oct. 21, West was arrested in New York City while participating in an organized protest against the city’s “stop-and-frisk” policy, which permits police officers to randomly search pedestrians.
West and 36 other protesters were charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly failing to disperse during the protest.
West and the protesters were later offered a deal which would allow their charges to be dropped if they were not arrested for six months. In a hearing last Thursday, most of the protesters, including West, opted to consolidate their cases for a collective jury trial at the end of April.
“I call it prophetic witness. They call it disorderly conduct,” West told reporters as he left the hearing, according to Courthouse News Service.
In addition to his participation in the Occupy protests, West co-hosts the weekly radio show “Smiley and West,” with political commentator Tavis Smiley.
West and Smiley are co-writing a book called “The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto,” which will hit stores this April.
West also continues to travel to different schools across the country to speak. West’s assistant, Lili Pollock, said in an email that West has about four speaking engagements a week.
According to West’s website’s calendar, in the past week he visited Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and California. This week, he will travel to Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut.
Between trips, West has made time to return to the University. He most recently visited campus on Monday.
Chair of the Center for African American Studies Eddie Glaude, Jr., GS ’97 said that West is “standing by his convictions in the public domain” by “speaking out against injustices and trying to motivate others to speak out and change the current state of affairs.”
“And of course he’s reading,” Glaude said. “He’s been doing a lot of reading.”
West said he is currently reading books on Aristotle, Dante and “a lot of Charles Williams ... the philosopher of love.”
“No matter what he’s doing in relation to his activism, he’s actively engaged in the life of the mind,” Glaude said.
The Center for African American Studies will be holding a retirement party for West on May 16. Glaude said he hopes West will continue to visit the University after he becomes an emeritus professor.
“Cornel was crucial to our existence and will always be a part of the Center,” Glaude said.