SANTA FE, NM (ETN) — The NAACP is backing efforts to bar a New Mexico-based county commissioner from public office, alleging that the Cowboys for Trump co-founder has sought to strip voters — including people of color — and to stir up rebellion.
The nation’s oldest civil rights organization urged a district court judge to fire and disqualify Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin from holding any future public office. The June 7 primaries in Mexico.
Written final arguments and verdict are pending after a two-day trial against Griffin, who represented himself without legal advice.
In a court filing Tuesday, the NAACP noted that Griffin was trying to draw comparisons between the January 6 uprising and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Legitimate protests and demonstrations in support of civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement are fundamentally different from the insurgent behavior that took place on Jan. 6,” the NAACP said in its briefing.
The three plaintiffs of 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 who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution is from his disqualified from office for participating in insurrection or rebellion or for giving aid or comfort to the enemies of the nation.
Griffin has invoked guarantees of free speech in his defense, arguing that removing him from office would cut against the will of the people and set a “dangerous precedent.”
Griffin was elected in 2018 and passed a recall vote last year, but will not run for reelection or any other office in November.
“If the plaintiffs prevail and a single judge undermines the will of the great people of Otero County, that will only be further proof of the tyranny under which we currently live,” Griffin said in an email Friday. “I was already under a recall after January 6. At that recall, the people of Otero County spoke and the recall failed.”
Griffin was convicted of a felony by federal court for entering the Capitol grounds on January 6, 2021, without entering. He was sentenced to 14 days and given credit for the time he served.
The NAACP has also drawn attention to Griffin’s attempts to invoke the plight of civil rights activists of the 1960s in defense. The NAACP briefing also denounces Griffin’s past criticism of those who support “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, aka the Black National Anthem” football game appearances.
In a July 2020 selfie video, Griffin suggested to supporters of the Black National Anthem “go back to Africa and form your little soccer teams in Africa and you can play on an old, worn-out dirt ground.”
Griffin has called his comments a bad choice to express what he sees as a double standard holding white people accountable for racist behavior.
“If there was a group of whites who wanted to play a ‘white national anthem,’ I would have had the same reaction to them,” Griffin said Friday in response to the NAACP briefing. “And as a white person, I’d be disgusted by that idea.”
Griffin voted against the certification of the local primary results in June on a “gut feeling” with no specific objections.