Jill Stein Green Party candidate for President arrest was not her first arrest of campaign season
Democracy, elections and voting at Democracy Chronicles
by Scott Mansfield
Green Party Candidate For President Jill Stein was arrested Tuesday afternoon outside Hofstra University. She and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, were attempting to get into the debate grounds to ensure that their party had a voice there. Police officers told them that they could not enter and that by standing in the road as they were, traffic was being blocked. They sat on the ground with an American flag draped across their laps and Stein said, “We are practicing our First Amendment rights.”
Stein called the debate a “mockery of democracy,” and went on to say, “only we can take it back and make it democratic again.” The police appear to have been rather unimpressed by the display. They told the Green Party pair that if they moved voluntarily no charges would be filed but they chose to stay and were summarily arrested for disorderly conduct.
Third party candidates being excluded from debates is nothing new, however. Commission on Presidential Debates stipulates that a 15 percent poll must be acquired to gain a place in the presidential debates—a percentage which Stein and Honkala don’t have the slightest chance of accruing. Honkala told news crews on site that they were “going to represent the 85 percent of the people across this country that agree that we should be in here and be a part of the debates today.” What Honkala is referring to here is the fact that 85 percent of the states are expected to include Stein on their ballots. This is a recurring conundrum for third party candidates who are included on ballots but not in media coverage.
For Jill Stein, though, this was not the first arrest of the campaign season. In early August, Stein was arrested at a protest in Philadelphia. She and supporters organized a protest at Fannie Mae, the mortgage lender, against housing foreclosures the bank was expected to enact. The protest involved a sit-in during which Stein and supporters sat in the lobby of the bank and listened to Stein describe her platform and disgruntlements with the current political machine. “We’ve had enough of the age of political fear, where we’re told to be quiet, vote our fears not our values,” said Stein during the protest. The charge she faced for this incident was defiant trespassing.
As with her legalization campaign calls in Oregon and elsewhere her willingness to be arrested is a testament to the kinds of publicity she allows herself which would be political suicide for a mainstream candidate.