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Green Party Candidates Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala Arrested Outside Hofstra Presidential Debate

October 17, 2012 by Brett Wilkins in Elections, Protests with 0 Comments

Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested after being denied entry to Tuesday night’s presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

According to the Long Island Report, Stein and Honkala attempted to enter the debate hall but were barred from campus because they did not have the proper credentials.

Politico reports that the Green Party will be on about 85 percent of the ballots this election, but the private corporation that runs the debates, the Commission on Presidential Debates, has set the bar for participation prohibitively high in a bid to exclude third party and independent candidates from debates. The commission, established by the Democratic and Republican parties in 1987, requires a candidate to show at least 15 percent support in a national poll in order to participate in debates.

“If you have done the work to get on the ballot, if you are on the ballot and could actually win the electoral college by being on the ballot in enough states, then you deserve to be in the election and you deserve to be heard,” Stein told a gathering of activists and demonstrators near the site of her arrest. “The American people deserve to hear choices which are not bought and paid for by multinational corporations and Wall Street. This is why we are not hearing the critical issues in this debate.”

“It shouldn’t just be whether or not you have billions of dollars that determines whether the American people can hear about your platform,” Honkala said.

“Our Green campaign is on the ballot for 85 percent of voters. Eighty-five percent of voters deserve to know who their choices are in this election and what the real solutions are that can solve the desperate problems we’re facing. The Commission on Presidential Debates makes a mockery of democracy by conducting this fake and contrived debate,” Stein added before she was approached and interrupted by a university official who asked if the candidates had credentials.

After their failed attempt to gain entrance to the debate hall, Stein and Honkala sat down in the street in front of the university with an American flag across their laps. Nassau County police ordered the candidates to move but they refused and were arrested. Stein condemned “this mock debate, this mockery of democracy” as she was being arrested.

“This is what democracy looks like in the 21st century,” she said from the back of a police car. “It’s going to take some politics of courage to get our democracy back.”

Stein told Democracy Now! that she and Honkala were handcuffed to chairs for eight hours following their arrest. When the women requested their release, police reportedly told them authorities did not want them “wandering around.” Stein and Honkala were released about 30 minutes after President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney finished debating. The woman were told that “their car” was waiting for them.

“It was actually a Secret Service car, apparently, that was waiting for us,” Stein is quoted by Raw Story. “We were not allowed to make a phone call, there was no phone that was working. We didn’t have ours — we had given our phones to our assistants — so it was quite a bit of work to be able to borrow a phone from someone in a gas station.”

Although excluded from Tuesday’s debate, Stein will square off against former New Mexico governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in an online debate hosted by the Independent Voter Network (IVN) and Google+ Politics. That debate will take place on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern/ 4:00 p.m. Pacific time.

Tuesday marked the second time Stein and Honkala have been arrested exercising their First Amendment rights in recent months. The pair was apprehended at an “Occupy Fannie Mae” protest against foreclosures in Philadelphia on August 1.

Stein, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, is an internist specializing in environmental medicine. Honkala grew up in poverty and was once homeless. She is one of the nation’s most respected anti-poverty activists and community organizers. Both women are also mothers.

Their platform centers around what they call the Green New Deal, an emergency four-part program inspired by the New Deal programs that helped lift America from the Great Depression designed to move America out of its current crisis and into a secure green future. The Green New Deal consists of an Economic Bill of Rights, a Green Transition to a sustainable economy, meaningful financial reform and a transition to a democracy that functions for the people, not the corporations that have hijacked our system.

Moral Low Ground has endorsed the Stein-Honkala ticket.


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