Last Fall, the Executive Committee and the Coordinating Committee of the Illinois Green Party, as the duly authorized bodies of the party, jointly made a decision to host a presidential forum at its Spring Convention, to be held in Chicago on February 29, 2020. The proposal adopted was to extend an invitation to all presidential candidates who were duly recognized as such by the Green Party of the United States. At the time, Howie Hawkins and Dario Hunter met that criteria and invitations were extended to them to participate in our forum. A few weeks later, candidate David Rolde also satisfied that criteria and an invitation was extended to him as well.
We had learned that the Green Party of Ohio was also holding a presidential forum that day, so we intentionally scheduled our forum for 6 p.m., to allow sufficient time for candidates to make the trip to Chicago. When 6 p.m. arrived, candidate Hawkins was the only candidate present. After delaying the forum until about 6:10 to make allowances for late arrivals, we began the forum with candidate Hawkins present.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza Curry and an individual who identified himself as Chad Wilson arrived. They were welcomed into the forum, which was open to the general public. After briefly sitting in the audience as Hawkins was finishing an answer, Curry and Wilson arose, walked to the front of the room, took seats at the front table reserved for forum participants, announced that they were also presidential candidates, and Ms. Curry began to give a statement.
Illinois Green Party Co-Chair Rich Whitney immediately objected, stating that Curry and Wilson had not been invited to the forum, would not be permitted to participate, and asked them to cease and return to their seats in the audience. Curry and Wilson refused and began making a number of accusations leveled at Hawkins and the Green Party’s presidential selection process, including accusations comparing the party leadership to the DNC, and claiming that Hawkins was not a “legal” candidate. Ms. Curry’s also engaged in her now standard modus operandi of accusing the party of disfavoring her because of race.
Many others in the audience, including current ILGP officers and former chair Zerlina Smith, joined the demand that Curry and Wilson cease disrupting the forum and respect the decision of the ILGP to invite only GP-US-recognized candidates to participate in the presidential forum. It was evident that no one in the audience approved of Curry and Wilson’s disruption, and the forum briefly degenerated into a shouting match. Rita Maniotis, chair of the Cook County Green Party, the host local, offered to allow Curry and Wilson to each make a statement at 7:15, when the forum was scheduled to close, but the offer was refused and the two continued to insist that they participate in the forum. Wilson attempted to bait Maniotis into saying that she was about to call the police but Maniotis made clear that she would do no such thing, as the assembled Greens were not about to involve law enforcement in this matter.
Forum Moderator AJ Reed then proposed to the audience that they simply conclude the forum, since the ILGP had not invited Curry and Wilson to participate and did not approve of giving them a platform at its event. The assembled members of the party and general public unanimously approved the proposal and the forum was concluded. Hunter and Rolde arrived shortly thereafter, and ILGP officers had to explain to them that the forum was ended due to the disruption of Curry and Wilson.
In sum, because Greens are nonviolent and understand the oppressive role of the police, Curry and Wilson were able to successfully sabotage the forum. We made the mistake of not barring them from the event in the first instance, a mistake that will not be repeated. Curry and Wilson thoroughly disrespected the democratic process and decision-making of the Illinois Green Party, disrespected the clearly expressed wishes of those present and revealed themselves as de facto enemies of the Green Party. Whether they are or are not agent provocateurs, they behaved in that fashion, disrupting and destroying a party function.
It is our understanding that a similar disruption occurred at the meeting of the Ohio Green Party, and we invite our sister state party to speak for itself on that matter. At any rate, the disruption of the ILGP’s presidential forum is part of a broader pattern of misconduct, at least on Ms. Curry’s part, including but not limited to her disruptive and publicly embarrassing conduct at the 2016 Annual National Meeting.
By proclaiming herself a Green and a Green candidate, and associating our party with her antics, Ms. Curry, along with her newfound ally, have chosen to act as enemies of the Green Party, and they have objectively caused injury, not only to the Illinois Green Party but to other state parties and the national party.
We issue this report in order to warn the leadership of other state parties and strongly recommend that they take appropriate steps to physically ban SKCM Curry and Chad Wilson from party-sponsored public fora, debates and other events. We call upon the Annual National Meeting Committee and the Presidential Candidate Support Committee, and, if necessary the Steering Committee of the GP-US, to take all necessary action to ban, and physically bar, Curry and Wilson, from attending the proceedings of the 2020 Annual National Meeting in Detroit and entering the facilities that the party has rented and paid for. If necessary, we will prepare a formal resolution to that effect, but we believe that these governing bodies already possess the authority to enact such common-sense measures.
Any organization or association has a fundamental right to determine who is, and who is not, a member of that organization. Any organization or association has a fundamental right to decide the terms and conditions of participation in its events and activities. These are basic principles of organizational autonomy and integrity.
We cannot prevent Curry, Wilson or anyone else from calling themselves “Greens” or Green candidates. But we do not have to recognize them as such and we do not have to tolerate them doing so at events that we sponsor and organize, with our time, labor and money. We have been overly tolerant in allowing persons who conduct themselves this way to impede the important mission and work of our party. It is time to say, “enough is enough” and put a stop to it. These individuals are not Greens and they are not our friends. By their actions, they have demonstrated this, and made themselves persona non grata. As a basic matter of protecting the integrity and reputation of our party, it is time for the Green Party to non-violently defend itself from those who are intent upon injuring our organization.
On Behalf of the Illinois Green Party Coordinating Committee