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Harvard philosophy professor Dr. Cornel West weighed in on the ongoing protests in reaction to George Floyd‘s death in police custody — and the violence and destruction that have taken place in cities across the U.S. over the past several days.
West noted that “black faces in high places” were not able to create needed change because they succumbed to the “capitalist economy” and “militarized nation-state.”
“The Black Lives Matter movement emerged under a black president, black attorney general, and black homeland security and they couldn’t deliver,” West said about the Obama administration during a CNN interview Friday night.
“The Black Lives Matter movement emerged under a black president, black attorney general, and black homeland security and they couldn’t deliver.”
The civil unrest on display across America this week has its roots much deeper than Floyd’s death on Monday, he said.
“I think we are witnessing America as a failed social experiment,” West said. “And what I mean by that is that the history of black people for over 200-something years in America has been looking at America’s failure.
“Its capitalist economy could not generate and deliver, in such a way that people could live lives of decency,” he added. “The nation-state, its criminal justice system, its legal system could not generate protection of rights and liberties.”
West referred to this week’s protests and riots as the result of a “perfect storm” of failures at “different levels of the American empire” and that despite the warnings, the “chickens are coming home to roost.”
“It is a lynching at the highest level, nobody can deny it,” West continued. “And I thank God that we have people in the streets. Could you imagine this kind of lynching taking place and people are indifferent, people don’t care, people are callous?”
West went on to claim that the “system cannot reform itself.”
The nationwide protests were sparked by the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for several minutes as he was being arrested on suspicion of forgery.
Video footage that went viral after the arrest showed Floyd telling the police officer “I can’t breathe” as passersby begged the officers to get off him. Moments later, Floyd became nonresponsive and was pronounced dead a short time later at a local hospital.
Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The other three officers involved with the arrest have been fired amid calls for their arrest.