Colorado Greens threaten ballot line over McKinney and Clemente’s participation in DNC Protests
Planned protests and demonstrations in Denver surrounding the Democratic National Convention have been plagued by strife pretty much from the beginning. The tension appears to be between one planning group called “Recreate 68″ (a reference to the Chicago 68 riots at the DNC) and a variety of other peace and justice organizations including the Colorado Green Party. The divide may be related to tactics – as when Recreate 68 lost the bid to demonstrate in Civic Center Park to Democrats the organizer vaguely threatened (as published in the media at the time):
“We’re having our protest at Civic Center,” said … Glenn Spagnuolo, a lead organizer for the group Re-create 68. “We’re not going to give up Civic Center park to the Democrats. . . . They are creating a very dangerous situation.”
Spagnuolo stood by the group’s intention to march from the Civic Center Park to the Pepsi Center and the DNC:
“When things blow up because the police have to enforce a permit that the Democrats got, don’t blame us for that,” said Glenn Spagnuolo, an organizer for the Re-create 68 Alliance.
Keep in mind that the Colorado National Guard is moving 400 troops to Denver “as part of its work at the National Convention…” The Colorado Green Party, having separated itself from Recreate ’68, urged Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente to pull out of speaking and participating at events in Denver.
In a statement issued earlier this week, Claire Ryder of Colorado (apparently, incorrectly) stated:
August 11 – In a press statement, and email blast this morning, Recreate ’68 announced that Cynthia McKinney, Green Party candidate for President, and Rosa Clemente, Green Party candidate for Vice President, would be speaking at their rallies. Both candidates, and the Green Party of Colorado, are refuting this announcement and are announcing that neither candidate, nor the Green Party of Colorado, are in any way associated with Recreate ’68, or will have any of their candidates speaking at, or attending, any event, in any way associated with the group Recreate ’68.
However, that turned out to not be the case. Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente stood by their decisions to speak at two separate events in Denver. McKinney is scheduled to speak at the “End the Occupations March and Rally” on August 24, and Rosa Clemente is scheduled to speak at the “Freedom March” on August 25.
Consequently, certain members of the Colorado Green Party informed the campaign that the Colorado Green Party was canceling all events for McKinney and Clemente, suspending petition drives by Colorado Greens to put McKinney on the ballot in Wyoming, and even threatening to make efforts to remove McKinney from the Colorado Green Party’s ballot line.
Breakdown (i.e. Editorial Portion)
This originated over a disagreement about “violence”, specifically that Recreate ’68’s statement on non-violence was not strong enough for others. That led to the division between the Colorado Greens and others from Recreate ’68. But when McKinney and Clemente refused to recuse themselves of speaking at one of the two largest political demonstrations in America this year, apparently one member of the Colorado Greens decided to put some teeth into her demands that they pull out.
While I empathize with the predicament that the Colorado Greens are in, I also feel that McKinney and Clemente are doing the right thing by speaking in front of and standing with the tens of thousands of frustrated and angry protesters demanding action against the War in Iraq, the War on Civil Liberties, and the dissipation of Democracy in America. These are our votes – and McKinney and Clemente have to go out and earn those votes.
Whether it is one individual or a handful in the Colorado Green Party that are choosing to hold their ballot line hostage, they are potentially denying Democracy to the voters of Colorado by threatening to remove McKinney from their ballot. The voters of Colorado, be they Greens or Republican-Democrats or Socialists or Independents, deserve a choice at the ballot box. No one person or small group of individuals should have that power to deny an elective choice to over a million voters, and it is exactly that kind of power over our Democracy that the Green Party has been fighting against.
I hope that this situation is resolved in a way that allows all participants to save face, but in no way should the Green Party ballot line in Colorado be denied to McKinney and Clemente, and no one should have the right to make demands on a candidate from a position of this level of power.
Cynthia McKinney has released a statement to Green Party supporters regarding this situation and I am waiting for permission to release portions of it. More as it develops.