Cornel West: ‘All Our Phones Are Tapped’

WASHINGTON – Author and political activist Cornel West told an audience that the criminal justice system in America is criminal itself, calling out JP Morgan president/CEO Jamie Dimon.

“The criminal justice system in America is itself criminal. You’ve got Wall Street criminals walking free, sipping tea at the White House. Jamie Dimon, we might as well call names,” said West during a speech and book signing at Busboys & Poets in Washington on Thursday.

“What does he do? He basically negotiates how much he wants to pay given his criminality and then writes it off as a tax write-off. And Jamal gets caught with a crack bag. Latisha gets caught with marijuana and she’s off to jail – that’s a crime against humanity,” West also said.

The former Princeton University professor slammed the federal government’s use of drones overseas.

“Drones are dropping bombs on innocent people as if a baby in Somalia or Pakistan doesn’t have the same status and significance as a baby in Washington, D.C.,” West said. “I don’t care how many folks say that somehow an American baby has more value than a baby in Ethiopia or Guatemala. It’s just not true. It’s a lie. They all have equal value. It’s a crime when you kill innocent people – 500 Palestinian babies killed. Where’s the voice of indignation?”

West was also critical of the National Security Agency (NSA). President Obama has said the federal government is not listening in on private phone conversations, but West begs to differ.

“Wiretappers walking fee, violating the law. Of course all our phones are tapped. I know mine is. I just sing a little Curtis Mayfield, no thing on me. ‘I'm so glad I've got my own. So glad that I can see. My life is a natural high. The man can't put no thing on me,’” said West, reciting song lyrics.

West was arrested recently in Ferguson, Mo., during a protest. West and many others were calling for the arrest of Officer Darren Wilson, the policeman who killed Michael Brown in August. He told the Busboys & Poets audience that Ferguson is the new Birmingham.

“It’s the catalytic moment we’ve been working for,” West said. “I just talked to Harry Belafonte. We’re going to bring artists from all around the county and the world together to raise money.”

Following the event, West signed copies of his new book, Black Prophetic Fire.