Green Party Governor Candidate Arrested While Attempting to Enter Debate


Photo credit: The.Comedian via Flickr/CC BY

More than a few folks are fed up with the nation's seemingly unshakable two-party system -- the endless hostile dance between Republicans and Democrats has got to leave even the most stalwart beltway politico exasperated. And yet, nobody seems to pay much attention when anyone tries to shake up the system. For instance, last night, Laura Wells, the Green Party candidate for governor in California, who received 400,000 votes when she ran for state controller in 2002, attempted to get into the debate with a ticket evidently not issued to her. After she refused to be turned away, she was arrested by the police. The San Jose Mercury has the story:

Oakland resident and Green Party candidate Laura Wells, 62, attempted to enter Dominican University's Angelico Hall at 5:20 p.m. when she presented a ticket that police said was not issued to her ... Police said Wells refused to cooperate with campus security when they requested she surrender the ticket. Wells became argumentative and refused to leave the area, police said, even after she was warned that if she persisted she would be subject to a citizen's arrest because she was on private property.

A security officer placed Wells under citizen's arrest, and she subsequently was taken into custody by San Rafael police officers and escorted from the grounds. Wells was cited and released for trespassing.

Wells will no doubt be portrayed as a wacko crank in the mainstream media, or maybe a bitter hippie who threw a tantrum over being shut out of the debate with the big boys. But I do think there is merit to her actions, even if her manner of stubbornly protesting being denied entry wasn't exactly smooth. It should give Californians reason to ponder why someone whose views represent at least 400,000 citizens isn't allowed an equal platform for debate (the same goes for other third party candidates). And registering such a message was certainly the intent of her clumsy protestation, as the Mercury notes:
Protesters associated with the Green Party of California who were upset that Wells was excluded from the debate picketed the event by wearing green gags covering their mouths.

"The debate is a fraud. Limiting it to Whitman and Brown is not just anti-green, it is anti-democratic and anti-republican," Wells said.

Whether or not making a stink outside the venue was the best way to drive the point home, the commentary does resonate, particularly at this exceptionally partisan moment in American politics. After all, tackling absolutely crucial issues like US energy policy, greenhouse gas emissions, has proved beyond either party in power -- except, ironically, perhaps in California, the only state with good climate and clean energy laws in place.

[Update: I've received word from a California Green Party representative that Wells was not trying to join the debate, just trying to enter it. She maintains that she had been issued a proper ticket, and was wrongfully barred at the door.]

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