SANTA FE, NM (AP) – The NAACP is backing efforts to bar a New Mexico-based county commissioner from public office, alleging the Cowboys for Trump co-founder sought to disenfranchise voters — including people of color — and the rebellion.
The nation’s oldest civil rights organization has urged a state district judge to remove and disqualify Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin from holding future public office, noting Griffin’s presence at the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and his recent refusal to certify the local results of New Primary elections in Mexico on June 7.
Written closing arguments and a ruling are pending after a two-day trial against Griffin, who was represented without legal counsel.
In a court filing Tuesday, the NAACP noted that Griffin attempted to draw comparisons between the Jan. 6 riots and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Lawful protests and demonstrations in support of civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement are fundamentally different from the riotous behavior that occurred on January 6,” the NAACP said in its release.
The three plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that Griffin should be disqualified from holding public office based on a clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that states that anyone sworn to uphold the Constitution is disqualified from office for engaging in sedition or rebellion or giving aid or comfort to the enemies of the nation.
Griffin has invoked free speech guarantees in his defense and argues that removing him from office would break against the will of the people and set a “dangerous precedent.”
Elected in 2018, Griffin withstood a recall vote last year but is not running for re-election or other office in November.
“If the plaintiffs prevail and a single judge overturns the will of the great people of Otero County, it will only be further evidence of the tyranny we live in right now,” Griffin said Friday in an email. “There was already a recall effort against me after January 6th. In that recall effort, the people of Otero County spoke and the recall failed.”
Griffin was convicted in federal court of a misdemeanor for entering the Capitol on January 6, 2021, without entering. He was sentenced to 14 days and given credit for time served.
The NAACP has also pointed to Griffin’s attempts to invoke the plight of 1960s civil rights activists in his defense. The NAACP’s brief also denounces Griffin’s earlier criticism of those who support performances at football games of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, also known as the Black National Anthem.
In a July 2020 selfie video, Griffin suggested Black National Anthem supporters “go back to Africa and form your little football teams in Africa and you can play on an old dirt lot.”
Griffin called his comments poorly chosen to express what he sees as a double standard that holds white people responsible for racist behavior.
“If there was a group of white people who wanted to play a ‘white national anthem,’ I would have the same response to them,” Griffin said Friday in response to the NAACP’s briefing. “And as a white man I would be disgusted by that idea.”
Griffin voted in June against certifying local primary election results based on a “gut feeling” without specific objections.