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2011-10-17

Danny Glover, Cornel West Speak Out at Occupy Protests as MLK Memorial is Dedicated in D.C.

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In the United States, police arrested hundreds of people over the weekend at demonstrations and occupations inspired by Occupy Wall Street. Arrest totals include: 175 in Chicago; 100 in Arizona; 92 in New York City; 19 in Raleigh, North Carolina; 19 in Denver; and 19 in Washington, D.C., including Princeton University Professor Cornel West, on the steps of the Supreme Court. West was arrested shortly after attending the dedication ceremony for the new Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. At the dedication, President Obama said, "It is right for us to celebrate Dr. King’s marvelous oratory, but it is worth remembering that progress did not come from words alone. Progress was hard. Progress was purchased through enduring the smack of billy clubs and the blast of fire hoses. It was bought with days in jail cells and nights of bomb threats." We also go to California, where actor and activist Danny Glover addressed Occupy Oakland. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the United States. Here, people—the police arrested hundreds of people over the weekend at demonstrations and occupations inspired by Occupy Wall Street. In Illinois, police arrested about 175 Occupy Chicago protesters after they refused to leave Grant Park, the site of President Obama’s election night victory rally. In Arizona, nearly a hundred people were arrested at the Occupy protests in Phoenix and Tucson. Nineteen members of Occupy Raleigh in North Carolina were charged with trespassing for refusing to leave the State Capitol grounds. Twenty-four protesters were arrested at Occupy Denver.

In Washington, D.C., Princeton University Professor Cornel West was one of 19 people arrested on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court during a protest against money in politics.

CORNEL WEST: We want to bear witness today that we know the relation between corporate greed and what goes on too often in the Supreme Court decisions. We want to send a lesson to ourselves, to our loved ones, our families, our communities, our nation and the world, that out of deep love for working and poor people, that we are willing to put whatever it takes, even if we get arrested today, and say we will not allow this day of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s memorial to go without somebody going to jail, because Martin King would be here right with us, willing to throw down out of deep love. And I want to add a special word for our brothers and sisters in the police force, because we want to let them know that we are standing with them as working people, as well.

We’re here to bear witness with, to be in solidarity with the Occupy movement all around the world, because we love poor people, we love working people, and we want Martin Luther King, Jr., to smile from the grave that we haven’t forgot his movement.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Princeton University professor, civil rights activist, Cornel West, being arrested on the steps of the Supreme Court, not far from where the Martin Luther King Memorial was being dedicated by President Obama.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is right for us to celebrate Dr. King’s marvelous oratory, but it is worth remembering that progress did not come from words alone. Progress was hard. Progress was purchased through enduring the smack of billy clubs and the blast of fire hoses. It was bought with days in jail cells and nights of bomb threats. For every victory during the height of the civil rights movement, there were setbacks and there were defeats.

AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama dedicating the monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, one of the most famous practitioners of civil disobedience in the world.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. Meanwhile, in Oakland, actor and activist Danny Glover addressed the Occupy Oakland movement Saturday. He talked about what the national and global protests should be accomplishing.

DANNY GLOVER: It has to be a reimagining and a rethinking of what we mean by democracy. It must be a reimagining and a rethinking of what we mean by work. It has to be a reimagining and a rethinking about what we mean by education, and what we mean—what it means—so importantly, what it means to be a human being. What does it mean to be a human being? What does it mean to be a human being in the 21st century? That’s what we’re talking about. That’s what we have to be. That is what we mean. But it’s not simply a revolution; it has to be a revolution and evolution and transformation. We have to be the change that we want to see. Are we willing to stand up for that? Are we willing to stand up for that? Are we willing to stand up there?

Young and old, young and old, it’s not only taking back our democracy. We have to remake it. We have to transform it. We have to build something better than that. That’s what we have to do. It’s let us down. It’s failed us. It’s failed us in our homes. It’s failed us in our communities. It’s failed us state by state. But it’s also failed this fragile planet we live on, this fragile Mother Earth, which nourishes us. It’s failed us, too. We are on the basis of—we’re on the basis, right on the precipice of ecological collapse. And yet, it goes on. It talks about growth and development and growth and growth and making more money, transforming the commonplace into private property and private wealth. It keeps doing that. But we have to change that. And we have to be here tomorrow, the next day, the day after tomorrow and the tomorrows after tomorrow, and not only to change it, but to ensure that its transformation is institutionalized. Just as the transformation into a country controlled by corporations has been institutionalized, we have to take it back and transform it into one that is for the people, by the people, that works on behalf of the people, and works on behalf of the planet.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Danny Glover addressing Occupy Oakland over the weekend. Interestingly, following actor Danny Glover’s public criticism in November of 2001 of the use of military tribunals, the Modesto, California, city council attempted to disinvite Glover as the featured speaker for the official celebration of Martin Luther King Day. That was back in 2002. Glover wondered if King, who called the United States the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, would have been invited to his own birthday celebration if he were still alive.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. This, on the same weekend that the monument to Dr. Martin Luther King was dedicated in Washington, D.C. We’re going to go to a break, and then, when we come back, we’ll find out what happened in New York and in Denver and in cities around the country. Stay with us.

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