Today, CenLamar received a lot of attention regarding an article I published about how my cousin, Luke White, was told to leave a Bobby Jindal rally. As I explained, Luke was simply accompanying a young woman to this rally and was not protesting or dressed inappropriately. However, I should clarify two things, in light of the additional information I have received: He was not “escorted” out, but he was kicked out of the event by a Sheriff’s Deputy at the behest of a Jindal campaign staffer. Like many other people in attendance, including nearly a dozen members of the media, Luke was filming the event, which apparently concerned Jindal’s plans for economic development. The following is a statement from Luke White, the President of the LSU College Democrats:
Recently, a couple of Louisiana blogs have made light of an incident that took place at a public event hosted by Bobby Jindal. The Congressman was on a tour of the state promoting his economic plan.
My name is Luke White. I am the President of the LSU College Democrats, and I am the person Lamar White references in his story about the incident. Since this issue seems to have opened up in the blogosphere, I feel it necessary to clarify my position and give a full and complete statement of the facts.
Kailey Gallegos, an intern with the Louisiana Democratic Party and secretary of the LSU College Democrats, documents these events for the party. This consists of going to public events and either tape recording or video taping what the candidate says, so that instant response can take place. Oftentimes, these events happen early in the day, and the various campaigns have to wait until the evening news to only see a short sound bite of the event. Documenting them provides the opportunity to have a record of the event in its entirety instantly, so that response can be made shortly there after instead of waiting for the evening news. The argument has been made to me by several Republicans that our intention is to find something and misquote the candidate. However, this holds no water. If our intention was to misquote Jindal, we would simply refer to the plethora of congressional records, writings, interviews and speeches already given by the Congressman. We wouldn’t waste our time at public events. Documenting is done by all campaigns for the same purposes.
Monday, September 17, 2007, Kailey and I attended the event together. As can be seen by the videos on the LA Democratic Party’s YouTube account, Kailey has been harassed at other Bobby Jindal events when trying to document them often to the point of intimidation. I am over 6’4, and she felt that having me there would hamper these efforts.
We arrived at the public event to find that there was no one at the door checking anyone. There were no sign in sheets. No tickets were needed. We were properly dressed and were not holding or displaying any anti-Jindal paraphernalia. We were offered Bobby Jindal stickers to wear, but we did not put them on. At no time, did we misrepresent who we were or our purpose.
Shortly after Bobby arrived, I took the camera out and began filming. Kailey normally does the filming; however, Jindal supporters recognized her and moved in front of us with their signs, although no one directly approached us. The reason I filmed is, again, because of my height. I was able to look over the signs of the staff. There were plenty of media there, all with cameras and many cell phones and digital cameras, most with video capability.
Immediately after Jindal took the podium, I was tapped on the shoulder by an East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputy and told to put the camera away or leave. After Kailey and I mentioned that there were members of the media and other supporters with cameras at the event, he warned us again and walked away. We left, not wanting to disrupt the event or further inflame the situation. For the record, the deputy was polite and never put his hands on us (only to tap on my shoulder). I am quite sure that he was not on his regular detail, but hired by the campaign as private security. Still, it is important to note, a man with gun asked us to leave.
Later that afternoon, I text messaged my friend Joey Cooper, a staffer for the Jindal campaign who was present at the event. He called me back, and we talked. He admitted that he had me “thrown out.” He literally had to go behind my back to the deputy. We were in plain sight at a public event, and not until a staffer informed the deputy that they didn’t want us there, were we thrown out.
As can be seen from the videos on YouTube, this is not the first time something like this has happened at a Bobby Jindal event.
I personally was embarrassed by the incident, especially considering that this seems to be standard operating protocol for a US Congressman from Louisiana and possibly our next governor. This is indicative of the fear the Jindal campaign has of what their own man will say. It is also egregiously disrespectful to all citizens of this state because obviously, Bobby Jindal only wants to represent those who support him. No member of the opposition will be tolerated, and the staff of his campaign has engaged in undemocratic tactics. They maintain a moral high ground, which in their minds allows them to run over members of the opposition. They want no participation by those who disagree, and they have no interest in communicating with them. The era of “you are with us or against us” politics is tradition brought down from the Bush Administration and seems to be infecting Republican campaigns everywhere.
Let me be clear, any such behavior by other campaigns is equally immoral. Democracy is about the free exchange of ideas, not about removing the opposition from participation. If we want to really fix Louisiana, we have to do it together. We can no longer tolerate governing by those with a sense of moral entitlement. Bobby Jindal is crossing the state with his message of bringing back ethics to the Louisiana. Maybe he should start with his own campaign, because the actions that took place that day are contrary to the ethics of a sound democracy. This cowardly disrespectful behavior must stop. I fear what Bobby Jindal and his staff will do to limit the voice of the opposition should they stumble on the power of the Governor’s office.
President, LSU College Democrats
Lwhit19 at lsu dot edu