Symbols associated with the far left are now entering mainstream American politics.
CJ Brinson, a City Council candidate in Greensboro, North Carolina is using the “clenched fist” logo, one associated with groups like Occupy Wall Street, Black Panthers and Antifa, as his campaign logo. It can be seen on his campaign signs, which are popping up throughout the city.
The movements with which the logo has been associated have been widely recognized as controversial by moderates on both sides of the political aisle.
Enter CJ Brinson, a 28-year-old youth pastor at Faith Christian Church, and former Community Organizer at Beloved Community Center. He is running for City Councilor for District 2 in Greensboro, one of five candidates running for the seat. According his campaign website, he “aims to empower the downtrodden citizens in his district by focusing on police accountability, participatory budgeting, and economic and social justice, work that builds upon his previous successes as a community leader with Black Lives Matter, and GSO Operation Transparency.”
Specifically, Brinson seems to be running on a vehemently anti-police platform. In fact, the first platform item listed on his aforementioned website is to “establish an Independent Citizens Review Board with subpoena and investigative powers to prohibit the police from policing themselves.” The second item listed says, “We believe that District 2 needs leadership that will fight relentlessly for transparency concerning police misconduct instead of leadership that aligns itself with the collusion of police abuse and corruption.” Both items are listed under a section entitled “Police Accountability.”
He links to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, a group that has published reports about the benefits of civilians policing the police. The last officer-involved shooting in Greensboro was in February 2017 when a perpetrator first shot a police officer before being shot and killed by another.
The second section on the platform page of the site is called “Addressing Racial and Systemic Inequity to Achieve Economic Justice.” One of the specific platform items in this section proposes raising the minimum wage for city employees and employees of private companies contracted by the city to $15/hour.
Under the “Sanctuary for All” section of the platform, the campaign lists its intention to “end police violence, surveillance of Muslims, ICE raids, and policies that harm women and LGBT people.”
Finally, the platform ends with a blanket statement asserting the following: “Communities which consist mainly of people of color experience the impact of air, water and soil pollution at much higher rates than predominantly white areas. We will focus on environmental justice.”
Brinson’s campaign site makes no mention of his political party. Based on the platform, it’s safe to assume that he’s not a Republican.
Curious as to why he would use a radical leftist symbol in a mainstream political campaign, I reached out to Brinson to ask why he chose the “clenched fist” logo. He responded, “To Represent solidarity amongst the forgotten in this city as well as the District 2!”
Consistent with the pervasive identity politics of the day, Brinson is not running his campaign with a focus on all of the citizens in his district, but rather the ones whom he views as “marginalized.” It remains to be seen how this message will be received by the public at large. Greensboro City Council primaries will be held on October 10th.
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