Target: Mike McCurry and Frank Fahrenkopf, chairs of the Commission on Presidential Debates
Goal: Issue an apology to Green Party presidential candidate and her running mate for their arrest and detention
Green Party candidate Jill Stein, along with her running mate Cheri Honkala, were arrested outside of Hofstra University before the second round of presidential debates for allegedly “blocking traffic.” Stein and Honkala, who were barred from the debates, had approached the debate grounds and were immediately intercepted by police who removed the two from the area after Honkala stated they were intending to practice their First Amendment rights.
They were in fact joining a protest that had already formed outside of the debates. The two women were then arrested, charged with disorderly conduct, and spent eight hours handcuffed to a metal chair in a remote Long Island police warehouse while the presidential debate continued.
Stein and Honkala were denied access to the debate despite the fact that the Green Party ticket will appear on 85% of the nation’s ballots this election. The Commission on Presidential Debates stipulates that a candidate must garner a minimum of 15% in the national polls to participate in the debate.
However, the inability of third-party candidates to reach a mass audience due to lack of television coverage makes it increasingly difficult for them to reach the 15% mark, and as a result they are denied the chance to gain a wider audience through presence at the televised debates. This lack of exposure also results in differential treatment of the presidential candidates — a likely factor in the disrespectful treatment Stein and Honkala received.
This is not the kind of treatment any presidential candidate should receive, regardless of whether or not they were invited to debate. This sends the message that the Commission on Presidential Debates feels it must not only disavow the perspective of third-party platforms, but that it must actively prevent them from making themselves known to the public. Tell the Commission on Presidential Debates to apologize for the police treatment of Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala.
Dear Mike McCurry and Frank Fahrenkopf,
The police treatment received by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala before the second presidential debate was unacceptable. There was no valid reason for their arrest and subsequent eight hour detainment when in fact all they had done was to approach the grounds of the debate. I feel the action taken against them was excessive and that the behavior of the security present outside of Hofstra University reflects poorly on the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Regardless of whether or not your commission allows third-party presence in or around the debate grounds, there is a standard of courtesy all presidential candidates are subject to. I condemn the dismissive and disrespectful treatment shown to Stein and Honkala. I also ask that the Commission on Presidential Debates issue an apology to both women for their treatment by the event police.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Democracy Now!