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.
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!”