Green mayoral candidate attacked at St. Louis town hall

Elston McCowan, a Baptist minister and SEIU union official who ran for mayor of St. Louis in 2009 on the Green Party line, was attacked at an 8/6 town hall forum on healthcare reform outside St. Louis in Mehlville, MO. As reported by Patrick M. O’Connell of the St. Louis Dispatch, both tea party protesters and SEIU counter-protesters blame each other for instigating the violence.

Among the injured was Kenneth Gladney, 38, of St. Louis. He said he was with the Tea Party, handing out yellow flags with “Don’t tread on me” printed on them, when he was assaulted. He said he sought hospital treatment for injuries to his knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face.

“I was attacked for something I believe in,” he said.

But Elston McCowan, an SEIU staffer, said Gladney was actually an instigator. McCowan accused Gladney of attacking him as he walked to his car. McCowan said he suffered a dislocated shoulder.

“Out of nowhere, the guy just assaults me,” said McCowan, 47, of St. Louis.

This Youtube video of the incident gives a better idea of what happened.

The video begins with McCowan down on the pavement, Gladney standing over him, until Gladney is pulled down by another man in an SEIU shirt. McCowan stands up and walks towards the camera, holding an apparently dislocated shoulder (0:22-0:40). A tea partier yells “You attacked that guy for nothing” at the man in SEIU shirt, who replies that “He hit Elston”.

Gladney is pictured in a wheelchair wearing a knee cast on the conservative RedState.com, where the author claims that McCowan is a “thug” and “one of the men who did this to Kenneth Gladney. Yet Gladney can be seen normally walking after and waving at a police car at 1:30-1:45 in the video. Nevertheless, right-wing bloggers are propagating the video as supposed evidence that Reverend McCowan, who keeps his hands to himself for the duration of the video, is a “union thug”.

This is not the first time an assault on Elston McCowan has made the news: on March 29th, 2009, after a debate with St. Louis incumbent mayor Francis Slay and challenger Maida Coleman, McCowan’s church van was firebombed outside his house.

Dave Schwab


  1. Does someone have the patience to give the best case scenario blow-by-blow from a green perspective.

    I can’t even understand if the SEIOU people are pro-single payer or anti; friends with the greens, or bothering the greens.

    Anyone have patience for a slower explanation?

  2. I can offer no explanation except this:

    Elston McCowan is affiliated with a local Green Party, not with the state affiliate of the Green Party of the United States (which is the Progressive Party is Missouri). Just wanted to make that clear, perhaps it can help figure out the SEIU affiliations, if that’s important.

  3. A Green Party founding fundamental is nonviolence.

    Let’s encourage both individuals to sit and negotiate. Discuss difference. Seek sincere solutions.

    Obviously, the nation needs Single Payer Health Care, the Green Party of the United States, and my state party the Independent Greens of Virginia http://www.VoteJoinRun.US have long worked for this just system.

    Of course, as Greens have long reminded, all those Trillions of tax dollars wasted on needless war, could pay for Single Payer Health Care, and many other social needs .

    STOP OIL Wars
    Cut oil dependence

    On another subject, but related to nonviolence and stopping war. To avoid oil wars, the U.S.A. needs to cut dependence on foriegn oil. A way to cut that oil dependence is to build High Speed Rail nationwide.

    The Independent Greens of Virginia call for a statwide ballot referendum on a $10 billion dollar High Speed Rail Bond.

    One of the Indy Greens 27 endorsee/nominees for House of Delegates Gail for Rail Parker has published an open letter in the Chronicle newspapers (not online).

    Gail for Rail calls for the U.S. Congress and Senate to include building Light Rail, and Metrorail to Ft. Belvoir, from the current end line Metrorail stop at Hunington.

    The U.S. House has approved a fiscal year 2010 DoD budget of $630 Billion. The U.S. Senate appropriations committee has approved a Defense Spending bill for fiscal year 2010 of $680 Billion. The federal fiscal year starts October 1, 2009. When congress returns from August recess the Senate will vote on the Defense bill. Then the House and Senate reconciliation committee will negotiate a final bill.

    Gail for Rail Parker calls for $2 billion appropriation in that bill to go to building Metrorail, and $500 million for light rail. The route is 14 miles long.

    Other Indy Green candidates are expected to support Gail for Rail’s proposal.

    Gail for Rail Parker is one of two Virginians elected to the Washington D. C. area, council of governments. Gail is the Citizens Advisory Council Chair. Gail for Rail Parker also serves as chair of the Fairfax County, Virginia Federation of Citizens Associations Public Safety Committee.

    Gail for Rail is a retired U.S. Air Force officer, businesswoman, mother, and grandmother.
    She is state Vice Chair of the Indy Greens.

    Here’s Gail on you tube.

    Here’s Progressive Indy Green Ron Fisher

  4. Thanks to anonymous.


    Now, I recall. The Green Party in St. Louis is kind of like the Independent Greens of Virginia. Somewhat of a misleading name

    The GP-US group in Missouri is the Progressive Party. Yup. It is coming back to me.

    (Though, I believe that at least the “Green Party” in Missouri has some folks that were founding greens, and that it was more of a genuine “split” than a just usurp the name like with the VA group.)

  5. Yes, our Green Party split from the Green Party that the St.Louis Green Party is affiliated with.Per a web site listing Political Parties: The split was a over whether the Party should focus on Elections or focus on Movements. Most folks from the original Party left to become GP-US. The original Party allegedly retained the more Socialist and Marxist oriented of the original grouping.Besides St. Louis their web site lists Chicago and 1 other local.

  6. Here’s my blow-by-blow:

    The setting: a town hall presentation on health care reform with Rep. Russ Carnahan outside St. Louis. Tea Party protesters show up to protest health care reform. SEIU members show up to counter-protest and support health care reform.

    The Green in question is Elston McCowan, who recently ran for mayor of St. Louis on the Green Party line. He is also an SEIU official and Baptist minister. He is the one being thrown to the ground on the left as the video starts, and he can be seen walking towards the camera holding his shoulder from 0:22-0:40.

    Tea partiers claim that Kenneth Gladney was attacked and beaten by SEIU members for passing out “don’t tread on me” flags. The SEIU folks claim that Gladney attacked McCowan, and they intervened to pull him off.

    The video begins with McCowan hitting the pavement on the left, Gladney standing over him on the right. One man steps over McCowan and faces Gladney in a defensive posture, while another man in an SEIU shirt pulls Gladney to the ground from behind, before falling himself. McCowan then stands and walks towards the camera, holding an apparently injured shoulder.

    Obviously, it’s not possible to tell from this video what transpired before the scuffle.

    Gladney appears around 1:30, walking and talking normally and hailing down a police car. Two days later, at another Tea Party protest outside the SEIU local, he appeared in a wheelchair.

  7. And my two cents:

    I felt compelled to post this story because it was making the rounds in the rightwingosphere, but with glaring gaps in reasoning. Altho the video shows McCowan being attacked, right-wing bloggers were circulating it with the claim that McCowan is a “union thug”.

    Why single out McCowan, who is completely nonviolent in the video? Well, he is a union official and prominent Green in St. Louis – in short, he’s a better poster boy for the tea-partiers’ campaign to demonize unions. It seemed like a story that’s becoming familiar to me – a progressive African-American leader stumbles into a dicey situation, is accused, denounced in the press… and 8 days later the facts come out on page E7. I would like to see the Green netroots, albeit small, rise up to defend our friends and circulate the facts about people like Chuck Turner and Cynthia McKinney.

    Remember, Elston McCowan’s church/campaign van was bombed earlier this year on the night of a mayoral debate. It seems like some people in St. Louis don’t regard him too kindly.

    Here’s an interesting piece on Kenneth Gladney, McCowan’s accuser:


    “Injured St. Louis Tea Party Protestor Has No Health Insurance, Asking For Donations for Medical Bills

    In yet another example of how truth is stranger than fiction, I present you with the case of Kenny Gladney.

    Who is Mr. Gladney, you ask?

    He’s the current poster boy for the St. Louis national Tea Party movement. Gladney is the sympathetic black conservative who the Tea Party reports was “severely beaten” by “union thugs” last Thursday at a healthcare forum in south St. Louis County.

    Two days after the attack Gladney showed up in a wheelchair at another Tea Party rally — this one outside the headquarters of the union whose “thugs” so mercilessly beat him.

    As the Post-Dispatch reported on Sunday:

    Gladney did not address Saturday’s crowd of about 200 people. His attorney, David Brown, however, read a prepared statement Gladney wrote. “A few nights ago there was an assault on my liberty, and on yours, too.” Brown read. “This should never happen in this country.”

    Supporters cheered. Brown finished by telling the crowd that Gladney is accepting donations toward his medical expenses. Gladney told reporters he was recently laid off and has no health insurance.

    No health insurance? And yet he’s rallying on the side of those opposed to the government providing healthcare to the uninsured?

    But wait, it gets stranger.

    Following is the video the Tea Party shot of Gladney getting “savagely beaten” at the rally. (Curiously the video can no longer be found on the St. Louis Tea Party’s website which originally aired the clip).

    Note: Gladney appears around the 57 second mark and can be seen walking, talking, and hailing down police minutes after the his savage beating.


    Now, tell me. Does Gladney look like someone who needs a wheelchair two days later? Or, as one political blog suggests, is Gladney just playing it up for his “15 minutes of Fox News fame and a lucrative out-of-court settlement”?”

    Also, according to the comments, the man in white shirt who glances at the camera before pointing at SEIU man and yelling “you attacked him!” is now Gladney’s lawyer. Comes off as a little wooden to me, but we’ll see what the academy has to say…

  8. Finally, I don’t see why the St. Louis Greens and the GPUS-affiliated Greens don’t join forces. I guess they grew out of GP-USA, but since they’re now running in elections (and more active than the Repubs in STL, I hear) what is the holdup?

    In fact, I even seem to recall a video of Cynthia McKinney appearing with Elston McCowan at an event in 2008 or 2009.

    Isn’t GPUS trying to get ballot access in MO? So why not ask St. Louis Green activists for help?

  9. Seems to me like the whole tea party phenomenon lends itself to a great mockumentary.

  10. Wow.

    I just watched a handful of “protest” videos on youtube. I have to hand it to them, they are well coordinated and very disruptive. I think GPUS just came out with something about these protests that we need to post here.

  11. No health insurance? And yet he’s rallying on the side of those opposed to the government providing healthcare to the uninsured?

    Same here. So?

  12. Dave,

    Great job.

    As to why the two Green Parties in Missouri don’t unite…

    I dunno.

    But would like to venture a guess, based on first hand experience.

    Here in Virginia we have two Green Parties for very good reason.

    The Independent Greens of Virginia include everybody – across the political spectrum.
    Impressive progessives like Ron Fisher.
    Centrists, Conservatives like Virginia and Allen Dobey. Independent Greens work with Independents, Greens, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, and of course Green Party folks.

    Indy Greens run their meetings with Roberts Rules of Order. The normal procedure for American politics across the land.

    IG candidates are nominated with a plurality of votes. If no other Green candidates are running, the person who is a candidate is nominated.

    Indy Greens step aside with a Green Party candidate actually gets on the ballot. Usually that’s one person a year.

    The Green Party of Virginia, meanwhile, includes only specific types of leftist, or “progressives” as candidates. They must be nominated by a super majority vote at a state or local meeting. Meetings are very long, and operated by “concensus”…often leading to rule of the minority position.

    The truth is this. For us in Virginia TWO Green Parties – one progressive, centrist, conservative, libertarian, constitutionalist, independent, inclusive …..and the other that is not….works for us very well.

    We wish our fellow state greens well, as we do both Green Parties in Missouri.

    What is most important is to continue to grow the Green Party, and keep this important issues before the voters with Green Party candidates on the ballot.

    Thank You.

  13. Kimberly Wilder,

    Honestly – how would you know!?!

    two decades of recruiting hundrends of local candidates.

    70,000 signatures a year…

    year after year…

    Have you by the way watched Ron Fisher’s video?

    Dr. Brad Blanton?

    Obviously you have not!

    Kimberly Wilder…
    Kimberly Wilder…
    tsk tsk..;-)

  14. I believe the St. Louis Greens are affiliated with the pretty much defunct GPUSA group at http://www.greenparty.org/

    “Josephine” we Greens wish you well. But we don’t consider you part of the Green movement please keep out of our internal affairs and we’ll keep out of the Independent Greens internal business.

    Therefore we are not your “fellow” Greens. You are Indy Greens. We respect you, so please respect us by not trying to confuse people that you are part of the Green movement. Any political party that worships that corporatist Michael Bloomberg are not Greens IMHO.

    Imagine if we renamed GPUS to the Democratic Greens and then tried to get cozy with the Democratic Party.

    You are a separate political entity and we respect your right to association, but you must respect OUR right to association.

    Good luck to your separate efforts,


  15. Walter,

    Sounds fair. Also respect for everyone’s right to comment here at Green Party watch in positive constructive fashion. Even old Baywatch babes with sagging tata’s.

    I ain’t got a dawg in this race..

    Obvious is:
    Virginia has 100 House of Delegate seats up for election. The Indy Greens have 27 endorsee/nominees.

    29 of the 100 seats are still unopposed. If the Indy Greens crowd weren’t on ballot that would have meant 46 unopposed races.

    Some state Green Parties get that political fact. Arkansas, Illinois, Main. Greens on the ballot impact debate, and how those elected legislate.

    Not on the ballot is out of sight. Out of mind, entirely out of the public eye.

    Look realistically, as Theresa Amato writes in her book “Grand Illusion” mainstream media requires pay to play. By in large black out Greens. But, on the ballot, still means in voter guides. Still means powerful incumbents here message and know how hard it is to be on the ballot.

    That’s why Independents/Greens and you name it should be, must be no the ballot.

    My reading of previous posts:

    It’s clear Independent Greens not only respect the right of association by other political groups. They support them with petition signatures, endorsements, time and $$$.

  16. The Ruler’s strategy is always divide and conquer. While the Duopoly fights each other over the spoils, they unite to keep third parties out. If we ever hope to overcome the rigged system we need to unify around what we can agree on. We are like a bunch of warring tribes of barbarians trying to withstand the might of Rome.

  17. Nice how you idiots will try to change anything around. You love to try and do that with history. Let’s see in St. Louis it was the poor union member who was attacked. Amazing how environmental groups like to viciously attack people and will go to no ends to do it. But of course that is democracy at work. Guess what the seiu is a disgusting bunch of people who will do anything they want to get what they want. And no one better disagree with them or else. Sounds just like you idiots.

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