Kucinich invokes Arab Spring, Civil Rights movement at marijuana rally

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) spoke this weekend at SeattleHempfest,” invoking the Civil Rights Movement and democratic uprisings in the Middle East while encouraging political participation, including the push for marijuana legalization.

“Open America! Show yourself! Time for mass action! This is why, and how, recent movements for freedom in Tunisia and Egypt gained momentum,” Kucinich said Saturday. “This is how Gandhi cast off the British Empire. This is how America’s suffragettes gained for women the right to vote. This is how Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington became a pivotal moment in the civil rights history of this country.”

Kucinich went on to advocate hospitalization, not incarceration for those with substance abuse problems, and repeatedly invoked King’s “We will overcome” refrain.

“Let your voice once again cause America to march, let your voice once again cause America to sing, let your voice once again cause America to seek new freedoms,” the congressman said.

Kucinich also touched on a variety of hot-button issues, including the wars, abortion rights, the Patriot Act and environmental regulation.

“Today it is not a financial deficit that will bring America down, it is a deficit of public action,” he said.

Kucinich has become a familiar face around Washington state in recent months. His Cleveland district is in danger of disappearing during redistricting (Ohio is losing two congressional seats), and Kucinich has been eyeing a run in Washington states 1st or 10th district. The state gained a seat in the redistricting process.

The congressman was mum on his future plans at the rally, but is expected to wait until after Ohios redistricting becomes final next month before announcing where he will campaign. The “Hempfest” appearance had a clear campaign-stop feel, though — Washington state Rep. Roger Goodman (D), who would be Kucinichs primary opponent in the 1st district, also spoke at the event.