VT: Third Party Candidate for Governor Arrested at Gubernatorial Debate (Updated with Video Link)

At a recent debate that apparently only included Vermont’s Democratic candidates for governor, independent gubernatorial candidate Dennis Steele was arrested for disorderly conduct after “interrupting” the event, according to local news sources. In their coverage of the debate, the Barre Montpelier Time Argus reports:

At one of the liveliest events so far in the campaign for the governorship, the five Democratic candidates jostled for political position and sparred as they answered questions on labor and union issues Thursday evening. Adding to the drama, a third-party candidate for governor had to be removed by police after he began interrupting answers by the candidates.

The caption to a photo accompanying the report actually provides more information on the incident than the report itself, stating:

Dennis Steele of Kirby, a candidate for governor with the Second Vermont Republican Party, is arrested for disorderly conduct by Barre Police after interrupting Thursday night’s debate.

Steele heads a slate of independent secessionist candidates calling for the establishment of the “Second Vermont Republic.”  See original post at Poli-Tea for a bit more background and context.

Update:  I’ve continued to look into this story over the course of the day and tracked down a more detailed report of the incident as well as video of the entire event from Vermont Public Television.  The following is a cross-posting of the updates from Poli-Tea:

Update 1: I was able to find a more detailed report on this incident at Seven Days, in a post by Shay Totten who live-blogged the event. Totten writes:

While the candidates didn’t challenge each other during the debate, an independent candidate for governor — Dennis Steele — did.

Steele, who is one of about a dozen secessionist candidates running for statewide and local offices in Vermont, interrupted the candidates early on. First, he shouted a comment from the back of the room, asking why they weren’t addressing what he claims is Vermont’s $1.5 billion share in a “failed foreign policy.”

He was asked to be quiet by organizers, and many attendees, but later walked right up the center aisle to the front of the room and shouted again, “Why aren’t you talking about the $1.5 billion that is our share of a failed foreign policy? Why aren’t you addressing it?”

He was then asked to sit back down by Parsons, and refused. Two Barre City police officers escorted Steele out of the building.

“Am I under arrest? Am I under arrest?!” Steele repeatedly asked as he resisted being removed.

Indeed, Steele was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, he told Seven Days today. He was able to go back later, after the debate, to collect his equipment. He was recording the event for his online radio station, Free Radio Vermont.

Steele was not invited, said organizers, because this debate was intended for candidates taking part in a primary. Although, Parsons did say at one point during the debate that [Republican candidate Brian] Dubie had been invited, but declined to attend. [Emphasis added.]

So Steele is excluded from the debate, apparently, on the grounds that it is only intended as a forum for candidates in the Democratic primary, but then it is revealed that the Republican candidate was also invited to participate! If, however, the debate was intended to be a forum for any gubernatorial candidate “who will be taking part in a primary” regardless of party, then this latter stipulation is clearly intended to exclude all independent candidates for the office from the event. According to Politics1, there are four independent candidates for governor of Vermont: Dennis Steele, Mike Bernhardt, Cris Ericson and Anthony Pollina.

Update 2: Vermont Public Television has uploaded video of the debate to their website. The event is entitled: “Working Vermont’s Democratic Primary Debate.” Steele interrupts the proceedings just after the 25 minute mark. Thanks to Shay Totten for the tip. Viewing the video, perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Steele’s confrontation with the police is a woman who can be clearly heard exclaiming in the background: “Be careful, they have tasers!”

17 thoughts on “VT: Third Party Candidate for Governor Arrested at Gubernatorial Debate (Updated with Video Link)

  1. Michael Cavlan RN

    The more things “changey-hopey”, the more they remain the same

    Back in 2006 when I was still a Green Party Flan, I mean fan I was the Green’s endorsed candidate for US Senate in Minnesota. There was a live televised debate with every other US Senate candidate except myself. I was in the audience and did the same thing. My supporters and myself were psychically ejected from the debate.

    The exact same thing happened to Aarron Dixon who was the GP US Senate candidate in Oregon and to another Green candidate for Senate elsewhere in the country.

    Good for Steele for exposing this for the sham debate that it is..

  2. d.eris

    Didn’t the same thing happen to Green candidate Reverend Billy in the ’09 mayoral race in NYC too?

    Apparently, this event in Vermont was broadcast live on tv. I have not had a chance to see if any video could be tracked down.

  3. Deran

    point of clarification; Aaron Dixon was on the ballot in WA State, not our southern neighbor.

  4. Ross Levin

    I remember reading about this happening to a Democratic presidential candidate in maybe ’92 or 2000 or sometime in the past twenty years.

  5. Lou Novak

    Doug Campbell, Green Party candidate for Governor of Michigan in took a seat on stage at a debate and was forcibly removed by the police and held in a cell until the debate was over. No charges were filed though Doug did consider charging the officers with assault. This occured in 2002 I believe.

  6. Michael Cavlan RN

    Mr Novak

    So you are not a flan of my work then?

    Oh well, carry on. Building and organizing an actual, honest, open and unafraid opposition to the pro-war, corporate corrupted two party system. Like we really mean it.

  7. Melty

    Many will recall that in 2004 Badnarik (LP) and Cobb (GP) spent a night in the slammer for trying to get into a presidential candidate debate.

  8. Green, green ......... Lake

    Isn’t Cobb the one whom dodged the possibilities of competing against &@$#& Democrats ??????? Wasn’t his running mate the infamous ‘Don’t Vote For Me’ Patricia LaMarshe from Maine ???????????

  9. Michael Cavlan RN

    Don

    We should give credit whre credit is due.

    David Cobb and Michael Badnarik both helped create the momentum that opened up the issue of voter fraud in Ohio and elsewhere in 2004. After all Ralph Nader was not even allowed on the ballot in Ohio that year. These are simple facts and realities.

    I am putting on my PLASma deflector before I say this next piece. In fact when Cobb and Badrarik worked together, it showed some merit to the PLAS plan espoused (endlessly and not productively) by some here (OK PLASma deflectors on at full strength) <>

    However having said that we should also point out the David Cobb had his own “don’t vote for me” schtick with the safe states strategy. Which he was not honest about when he sought the GP nomination. He did not let that little cat out of the bag until AFTER.

    I still thank Mr David Cobb and his cohorts. They showed myelf and countless others just how rotten, sneaky and corrupt the National GP are.

    To put my “gripes” and “spleeen venting” of the GP into context.

    You have some who actually want the GP to run no-one, anywhere at any time (seriously, the NOTA crowd) some who want to run only in safe states, safe districts (the David Cobb crowd who remained after the Cobb farce became aparent) and those whose main message is, in essense
    Fuck em all, the entire two party system is corrupt to it’s very core so run against the entire system itself (mainly the Nader folks along with McKinney supporters like myself, Elaine Brown supporters and others)

    Now of these three groupings, which will be most committed to building an actual independent political movement? Who will do the actual work instead of cyber debating and “internal squabbles?”

    Which group was targeted in what can only be discribed as a deliberate and systematic campaign of attack and remove?

    Which group left the GP and are now building and organizing?

    There you have it. The political definitions and realities of the Green party, from a former member and former very active ativist.

    If only I knew at the 2004 Milwaukee Convention what I know now.

    It goes to the heart and soul as to why I am committed to exposing the Greens just as much as I am committed to exposing the rotten corrupt two party system..

    So, carry on.. Building, organizing annd actual, unafraid oposition to the rotten, corrupt, pro-war two party system.

    Like we really mean it..

  10. d.eris

    “Be careful, they have tasers!”

    This is a statement we are likely to hear more and more often in videos of this sort.

  11. Perot, Perot, Nader, Nader, Nader ......... Lake

    [Mikey Cavlan:] There you have it. The political definitions and realities of the Green party, from a former member and former very active activist.

    [and I am under no illusion that Boss Ross or 'Grumpy Ole Man' are perfect ........ or that Corn Cobb and Patricia LaMarshe do not have good points ----- some where!]

  12. VAGreen

    “There you have it. The political definitions and realities of the Green party, from a former member and former very active ativist.”

    Defining Greens by their choice in the 2004 Presidential race is grossly oversimplifying things.

    “You have some who actually want the GP to run no-one, anywhere at any time (seriously, the NOTA crowd)”

    There are a few Greens who didn’t want to run a Presidential candidate in 2004 that see the Green Party as more of an activist group than a political party. I disagree with them, but I have much more respect for them and their activism than those who want the Green Party to be a left discussion circle.

    There were other Greens who favored NOTA in 2004 who wanted to focus on other elections. They are not the enemy. I have a great deal of respect for Jill Stein, who didn’t want to run a Presidential candidate. Her runs for statewide office helped get us ballot access in Massachusetts in 2002 and 2006. She’s running again this year.

    “some who want to run only in safe states, safe districts (the David Cobb crowd who remained after the Cobb farce became aparent)”

    Another oversimplification. There were some Cobb supporters who got too close to the Democrats. There were others who supported safe states only for the 2004 Presidential race. Many other Greens supported Cobb in spite of safe states, not because of it. Cobb ended up campaigning in swing states after the convention anyway.

    I don’t fit into your neat little categories either. I supported Cobb in 2004 and put a great deal of energy into getting McKinney on the ballot in 2008 in one of the states most heavily targeted by the Obama campaign.

    “and those whose main message is, in essense
    Fuck em all, the entire two party system is corrupt to it’s very core so run against the entire system itself (mainly the Nader folks along with McKinney supporters like myself, Elaine Brown supporters and others)”

    The Nader supporters are not monolithic. Those who put the party before Nader are still with us. They continue to make valuable contributions to the Green Party. There was another faction (the Destructo-Greens) who were obsessed with retribution against Cobb supporters. They were very disruptive on the National Committee during the last election cycle and caused a lot of damage before they lef the party.

    “Which group was targeted in what can only be discribed as a deliberate and systematic campaign of attack and remove?”

    The Destructo-Greens cooked their own goose. They engaged in a series of attacks on other National Committee delegates on our listservs that were in violation of Proposal 186. As a result, they ended up on moderation. Some of them resigned when they realized that they could no longer disrupt our listservs. Others were voted out fair and square by their state parties.

    “It goes to the heart and soul as to why I am committed to exposing the Greens just as much as I am committed to exposing the rotten corrupt two party system..”

    No, it’s because you can’t build an alternative to the Greens and you have a one-track hate-mind.

  13. Robert Wagner

    G’Day,

    As an independent candidate for the Vermont Senate, I can attest to the small-time corruption of Vermont politics that has been going on ever since Vermont joined the Empire in 1791. Ever since then, we have been less of a state, than a resource colony. Montpelier presides over a $1.2 billion/year tax-free give-away of our natural resources (mineral, groundwater, surface water, broadcast spectrum) to major corporations. And THAT is what the political machine are afraid of exposing, when they use the police as their personal political officers.

    Vermont’s pro-rata share of the Empire’s military budget is $1.2 billion per year, and when confronted with this, the best answer the Democrat candidates can give, is that they are ‘Proud to be American’. Why don’t they go personally lead the troops into skirmishes against occupied peoples?

    They should get OUT of Montpelier so that folks who are loyal to Vermont can work on energy independence, transition to post-peak-oil, local food production and distribution, as well as removing the legal barriers to all of the above.

    Vermont Independence is an important possibility to keep on the table so at least people will know, why they are being kept down, why the budget is asking them to do without, why public transport is being scaled back… the list is long, but it adds up to the conclusion that the Democrats have broken the social contract with Vermonters so that Wall Street, AIG, Goldman Sachs, General Dynamics, Nestle & Coca Cola might continue to do well. The Democrats have no moral right to be in these debates, as they have nothing to say that might be of relevance to the lives of Vermonters today.

  14. Connor Rose

    I ran for a political office in 2002 and was denied entrance to a political debate that was supposed to be open for ALL canidates. When I asked why i wasnt allowed to go in the officers guarding the doors wont give direct answers. And when i still tried to attend i was arrested and the news gave a bogus story about how i attacked the officers when they nightsticked me and beat me in police custody. Thank you Dennis steele for fighting for freedom and against americas corruption

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