Not the whiteman’s bitchJuly 22, 2010
Ieshuh Griffin, an independent candidate though it was a great slogan. She was going to put it on yard signs, bumper stickers, pins and UNDER HER NAME AT THE BALLOT BOX.
“I’m not making a derogatory statement toward an ethnic group. I’m stating what I’m not,” Griffin told board members. “It’s my constitutional right to freedom of speech.”
God damn right it is. Sing it sister!
Griffin has a history of feuding with local officials.
Unlike candidates from the established Democratic and Republican parties, independents are allowed a five-word statement of purpose on the ballot to explain to voters what their candidacy is about.
Shane Falk, a staff attorney for the Accountability Board, said that the board had the ability to restrict obscene or derogatory candidate statements from the ballot.
The board staff ruled that the statement was derogatory and should not be allowed. With one member absent, the board voted 3-2 in favor of reversing that ruling and allowing the wording. Under state law, however, four votes are needed for the board to act.
As a result, the staff decision stands, and Griffin will be on the ballot with “independent” by her name and nothing else. Falk noted that Griffin was still free to use the phrase in her campaign literature and any ads she might run.
The board, which administers state election laws, consists of six former judges. All of them are white.
This is not the first time that Griffin has been critical of a government action.
She said the same thing in May 2007 of a decision by a Milwaukee County circuit judge who found her sister, April Griffin, in contempt of court and jailed her for refusing to tell authorities where to find her son in a custody dispute case that received national attention.
April Griffin spent eight months in jail. After her release police acted on a tip and found her with the child and arrested her for interference of custody, recklessly endangering safety and resisting arrest.
She was convicted in that case and is appealing.
Williams, who is retiring after 30 years in the Assembly, said she learned of the phrase Ieshuh Griffin wanted to use when her constituents mentioned seeing it on her nomination papers.
“That phrase kind of threw them,” said Williams, who is African-American. “They were just kind of surprised. . . . I think most of the people would feel kind of offended by that.”
Board member Thomas Barland, who voted to allow Griffin to make the statement, disagreed.
“She says a lot in five words,” Barland said of Griffin. “It wasn’t pornographic. It wasn’t obscene, and I didn’t interpret it as racial.”
Donald Downs, a free speech expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said approving the ballot language would have made it difficult to reject a hypothetical case in which a white candidate said he was not beholden to the “black man.” He said that the board was probably within its rights to restrict the speech because the ballot was, in a sense, “providing a platform” for Griffin.
“I don’t think they’re out of the ballpark,” Downs said of the board. “Because of the special context, the government is going to have more of a say in what’s said.”
But Mike Maistelman, a Milwaukee elections attorney who represents Democratic candidates, said he thought Griffin might have a good shot at winning a lawsuit.
“It is a political statement that should be protected by the First Amendment,” said Maistelman.
Griffin, who describes herself as a “30-ish” community activist, has been critical of Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Thomas Donegan, who presided over her sister April’s legal case. Ieshuh Griffin went to federal court in a failed attempt to challenge Donegan’s authority to sit as judge.
Griffin also runs a YouTube channel about her sister’s case.
She said she will appeal the Accountability Board’s latest decision in federal court, representing herself.
Three Democrats and Griffin are running for the seat in the heavily African-American 10th Assembly District.
Williams said she is not endorsing and has told all four candidates she would offer advice if asked. She said she would have told Griffin not to use that phrase if she had been consulted.
“It’s not something I would do and I would not recommend anyone running for public office to do,” Williams said. “It’s almost like you’re not serious. I don’t know what statement she’s making.”
You can watch her video testifying to the GAB here.
Her future assembly district is predominately black, so I’m not sure too many people in her area would be offended being called “whitemen.” however I’d really like to see this play out in Madison, since a majority of the people in office are White and or Men. I wonder if Griffin’s current slogan narrowly edged “Free Crack for your vote”.
Now there is certainly that whole issue of racism because she’s address a large group of people in a derogatory way.Indcating that she pretty much hates white people is racist and bigoted and should have no place in the AGE OF OBAMA, a time beyond race. But since she’s a minority, she’ll get away with that without James Causey or Eugene Kane batting an eye. They’ll applaud her for hating the whiteman as much as they do, if they do anything.
Here’s hoping Iesha Griffin wins and becomes bogged down in the bureaucracy and parliamentary rules of Madison and in fact becomes the whiteman’s bitch.