(HEMPSTEAD, NY) - Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, the Green presidential and vice-presidential nominees, were just now forcibly prevented from entering the grounds of tonight's presidential debate organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). See a video here.
Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala will appear on 85% of ballots on Election Day, and recently polled 2-3% in four consecutive national polls. The Federal government recognizes Jill Stein as a qualified presidential candidate, having approved her campaign for federal matching funds. Yet the two women were arrested by local police when they tried to enter the grounds of Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York, where the debate is scheduled to take place. They are currently still in police custody.
Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala walked with supporters toward the Hofstra campus at 2:00pm EST today. There they were met by three ranks of police officers in uniform and plainclothes. At this point, the Green Party candidates held an impromptu press conference in which Dr. Stein called the CPD debate a "mockumentary," saying that, "We are here to bring the courage of those excluded from our politics to this mock debate, this mockery of democracy."
Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala then turned and began walking onto the debate grounds, at which point the rank of police officers physically stopped them and pushed them back. The two women sat down and the police arrested them, saying that Stein and Honkala would be charged with "obstructing traffic," a charge Jill Stein for President staffer and lawyer Alex Howard called "bogus" in that there was no through-traffic visible at any time during the incident.
The presidential debates are the first opportunity for millions of voters to see the candidates themselves, not just their advertising campaigns. These debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) - a supposedly "nonpartisan" entity which is a puppet of and serves the interests of the Democrats, Republicans and the big corporations that fund both of them. The CPD's criteria to be included in these debates is designed to exclude independent presidential contenders who promote ideas that challenge those in power.
Over 14,000 have signed a statement calling on CPD to change its criteria, and repeated public calls for opening the CPD debates have been ignored by that corporation.
“The debates must include every candidate who is on enough ballots to win the White House and who has demonstrated a minimal level of support -- meaning either 1% of the vote in a credible national poll, or qualification for federal matching funds, or both,” reads the statement. “In 2012, the Green and Libertarian party candidates both meet all of these criteria and are both contenders for the presidency…These debates belong to the people, not the politicians or Wall Street.”
In addition there have been protests all over the country about this issue including in Boston, home of the Romney headquarters, and in Denver and Kentucky – the sites of the two recent presidential and vice presidential debates.
Jill Stein will be participating in at least four debates coming up, during which the American people will be able to learn the real range of options available to them this election. Below are the list of debates in which Jill Stein will be participating:
- Thursday, October 18 -- The Independent Voter Network debate between Jill Stein and Gary Johnson can be viewed live on October 18, 2012 beginning at 7:00 PM EST on http://ivn.us/, or on IVN.us’ Google+ and YouTube page. More information at: http://ivn.us/ca-election-center/2012/10/11/ivn-us-to-host-first-online-presidential-debate/
- Monday, October 22 -- Time TBA: Democracy Now continues its "Expanding the Debate" series with a live broadcast during the third presidential debate with real-time responses from Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson. For full details: http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2012/10/10/expanding_the_debate_upcoming_democracy_now_election_specials
- Thursday, October 23 & Tuesday October 30 -- Free and Equal Election's Alternative Debate will be available live online, streaming from http://freeandequal.org/live on Oct. 23 and Oct 30 at 9:00 PM EST. The first of thses two debates will include Jill Stein from the Green Party; Gary Johnson from the Libertarian Party; Virgil Goode from the Constitution Party; and Rocky Anderson from the Justice Party. More information at: http://action.freeandequal.org/debate-rsvp/