Green Party candidates criticize political climate, advocate for social justice at rally

Alexandra Nobida/Staff

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Colorful signs and music welcomed about 40 Green Party members to a rally at the South Berkeley Senior Center on Sunday evening, where attendees heard from their local candidates and 2016 Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein.

At the event, attendees — many of whom wore green shirts and accessories — heard from five candidates who will be on November’s ballot. The candidates present included congressional candidate Laura Wells, Berkeley City Council candidate Aidan Hill, Pacifica City Council candidate Bridget Duffy, Oakland mayoral candidate Saied Karamooz and candidate for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Mike Murphy.

“I’m really excited about the Green Party’s takeover in the city of Berkeley,” said event attendee Kerby Lynch, a UC Berkeley doctoral student. “The Green Party, and how they are outwardly about peace and violence, will help the city.”

As the first speaker at the rally, Stein discussed the Green Party’s role in combating the current political climate. She also talked about the allocation of government funds and criticized the high percentage of funds spent on the military.

Murphy said in his speech that he can hardly recognize the neighborhood he grew up in, which has prompted his desire to address gentrification in San Francisco.

“When we win, everyone wins,” Murphy said at the rally. “If we were in positions of power, … we would do better.”

At the rally, Duffy talked about a greater need for social justice, citing her personal experience with being arrested for battery after she said she “barely” touched someone, while perpetrators of assault are often not convicted. Wells expressed outrage at the current political climate and criticized the Obama administration, stating that voters need to have higher expectations for those they elect to office.

When discussing his motivation to run for mayor of Oakland, Karamooz said he sees various forms of injustice in the streets, including “widespread poverty.” He added that he stands for two principles: integrity and social solidarity.

Hill, who was arrested Oct. 24, began their speech at the rally by recognizing the Ohlone people. They went on to speak about immigration, police violence and the need for gender equity, especially as a nonbinary candidate for City Council.

“Women and gender nonconforming people must be political if we want to see change in our lifetimes,” Hill said at the rally.

The candidates’ speeches were followed by a musical performance and a brief question and answer session.

To conclude the event, Stein urged Green Party members to keep fighting, stating that they have “become the face of political opposition.” She also thanked the candidates — especially Hill — for taking a stand against the major political parties.

“I’m emotionally overwhelmed because the Green Party is the only thing going on politically that aligns with who I am as a human being,” independent advocate and event attendee Jillian Kirkham said.

Contact Mallika Seshadri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.