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November 16, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Cornel West rallies the Occupy Seattle group

Princeton professor Cornel West, a self described “democratic intellectual” who made news recently for criticizing President Obama’s lack of focus on ending poverty, gave a pep talk to about 200 Occupy Seattle supporters Wednesday.

He compared the mostly young activists to jazz hero John Coltrane and Seattle rock guitar pioneer Jimi Hendrix, whose statue sits across the street from the Occupy camp at Seattle Central Community College.

“Yes, it is a love movement, it’s what John Coltrane called a Love Supreme. When you have a love supreme, you will stand out in the rain … It’s precisely because we love the people that we hate injustice.”

His noontime speech, in cold rain, came after police arrested six people Tuesday evening and used pepper spray on demonstrators. Those sprayed included a pregnant woman, one or more clergy and an elderly woman, Occupy participants said. The 84-year -ld woman, Dorli Rainey, speaks insistently on many causes, including her opposition to the $2 billion Highway 99 tunnel, as a boon for the rich. The Seattle PI took this photo of her after the confrontation.

West told the group that it wasn’t necessary, at what he called an “early stage” of the Occupy movement, to issue specific demands. “We want to change the whole ethos of the nation, we want to change the whole ethos of the world,” he said.

He will speak tonight in the Lindbloom Student Center at Green River Community College in Auburn, then visit Occupy Oakland, where some of the most aggressive crackdowns have occurred. “I asked my mama to say a prayer for me,” joked West, who described being jailed during a protest in Washington, D.C. earlier this fall.

Comments | More in General news | Topics: Cornel West, Occupy Seattle

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