Political prisoner

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So much for unity among tree huggers. At last week’s Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on the Environment, thrown by the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the Green Party’s candidate for governor was dragged offstage, cuffed and taken to jail. That’s what pesky Douglas Campbell gets for showing up where he’s not invited and taking the seat earmarked for former governor and current Democratic candidate Jim Blanchard.

Police providing security at the event lifted Campbell from his perch and hauled him away after he ignored repeated requests to exit, says Dana Debel, executive director of the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. Things got downright slapstick — police and the burly Campbell toppled over as the estimated 800 audience members settled in for the show.

The debate at Brighton High School, co-sponsored by the Detroit Free Press and University of Michigan Public Television, was specifically for gubernatorial candidates running in the Democratic and Republican primaries on Aug. 6, says Debel. “Once you establish criteria, if you change it for one person you have to change it for everybody. We had to establish limiting criteria because we were producing this for television,” says Debel. She adds that she informed Campbell and the Green Party well in advance that they could not participate.

“That’s a disingenuous argument for maintaining the status quo and eliminating people with new ideas,” scoffs Campbell. “The Free Press story said all candidates for governor would be invited.”

A more accurate description, says Campbell, would have been “all candidates from big parties that won’t rock the boat.”

“If you’re going to have a forum on environmental issues, then why not invite the one party that’s had environmental issues on its agenda from its very inception?” said Marc Reichardt, who chairs the Green Party of Michigan. Unlike Dems and Republicans, Greens and other so-called third parties will select their gubernatorial candidates at party conventions. Campbell was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. We hear that, during the few hours spent in the clink, he put down his thoughts in what he’s titled “Letter from Brighton.” Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud.

Lisa M. Collins is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail [email protected]
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