EUREKA -- Green presidential candidate and Eureka resident David Cobb was arrested in St. Louis while protesting the debate between President Bush and John Kerry.
According to a press release issued by his campaign staff on Saturday, Cobb was engaged in civil disobedience, protesting what he called "the anti-democratic presidential debates which are restricted to participants from two political parties and sponsored by their corporate contributors."
The debate sponsor, the Commission on Presidential Debates, denied the Cobb campaign's repeated requests to participate in the debates with Bush and Kerry and even reportedly denied Cobb's request to attend the St. Louis debate as an audience member.
Cobb was arrested shortly after the start of the Washington University debate. St. Louis City police officers apprehended Cobb when he pushed through a line of police with shields who were preventing entry to the debate, according to Cobb's press release.
"The real crime is the corporate hijacking of our democracy," Cobb said. "The corporations sponsoring these restricted, scripted and staged events, and their two-party accomplices, don't want the American people to know about the choices they have in this election."
Cobb accused what he called big business and the two-party "duopoly" of squelching voices such as his own that are calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition troops in Iraq.
"Debates aren't just about who is going to win an election -- they are the only forum where we can have unrestricted dialogue about the critical issues facing us," said Blair Bobier, media director for the David Cobb-Patricia LaMarche campaign. "Third parties have a long history of changing the political landscape of this country. Restricting debates to two parties severely limits our potential for progressive change."
Arrested along with Cobb was the Libertarian presidential candidate, Michael Badnarik, of Austin, Texas.
Cobb's partner, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, said Cobb was released from jail shortly after midnight and was cited with trespassing and failure to obey a reasonable police order. Sopoci-Belknap, who is active in Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt, said Cobb was exercising his right to free speech when he decided to crash the debate. She added that Cobb's name is on enough ballots nationwide that he should have been given an opportunity to participate in the debates.
"It's ridiculous and preposterous that we're only allowed to hear two perspectives," she said. "Especially when they're scripted ahead of time and financed by a private corporation."
© 2004 Times - Standard