There Is Still a Rift Between Bernie Sanders Activists and the Democratic Party Brass
The tension between Bernie Sanders activists and Democratic Party brass set to crown Hillary Clinton their nominee lingered in pockets of Philadelphia as the final day of the convention dawned.
Actors and delegates took center stage in smaller and more subdued protests by Bernie Sanders supporters on a mostly quiet Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention.
Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover, Shailene Woodley and Rosario Dawson joined forces as night fell to protest what they consider slights against loyalists of Sanders, a Vermont U.S. senator who competed against Hillary Clinton in the party’s presidential primaries before endorsing her.
Sarandon said convention organizers scuttled planned remarks from prominent Sanders surrogate Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator, at the convention on Tuesday night.
“There’s been a lot of difficulty in executing the will of Bernie Sanders’ people and surrogates, and this was just a topping for the whole thing because she was ready to go. And she was very, very disappointed,” Sarandon said as the other celebrities joined her on a platform. “This has not gone by lightly, and … we are upset.”
Late Wednesday, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the convention site as Vice President Joe Biden, vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine and President Barack Obama spoke inside. There were two distinct groups of protesters; one peaceful, the other anti-government. At one point a protester’s clothes caught on fire while trying to stomp out the flames on a burning flag. The protester dropped to the ground and rolled around to put the fire out. Another tense moment arose when protesters knocked over part of a security fence, but police quickly moved in and put the fence back up. The Secret Service said seven people were arrested and will be charged with entering a restricted area. A group of peaceful protesters then sat on the ground and sang as the tension in the streets dropped back to normal.
Earlier in the day, half a dozen Sanders delegates spoke to about 300 demonstrators gathered at a plaza near City Hall, about 4 miles from the convention site, for rallies and speeches.
Erika Onsrud, an at-large delegate from Minnesota, told the people in the crowd that they need to continue to fight. Amid cheers, she exhorted them: “Stay awake!”
Other delegates acknowledged that Sanders’ loss was disappointing but told the supporters that they can create change without the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, contending the media contributed to a rigged election.
A few blocks away, police detained 10 protesters at Comcast’s corporate headquarters for holding a sit-in accusing the cable TV giant and NBC owner of not reporting the truth. The demonstrators locked themselves with zip-ties to a rolling gate inside the building. Officers briefly closed the 975-foot-tall skyscraper to all but Comcast employees. All 10 protesters were ticketed and released.
Another group of about a dozen anti-Israel demonstrators protested at a hotel where a number of delegations to the four-day convention were staying. They called for a free Palestine.
The absence of marches was a marked change from earlier in the week, with some Sanders supporters saying their comrades seemed fatigued and frustrated.
Thousands of activists have taken to the streets during the convention to voice support for Sanders and his liberal agenda. On Tuesday night, the Bernie or Bust brigades watched in dismay as Clinton became the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.
Demonstrator Shannon Morgan, who’s from suburban New York, said she’s fatigued by political frustration, long days and hot pavement that burned through the soles of her Vans and scorched the bottoms of her feet.
She described herself as an anarchist socialist and said she can’t understand why Sanders supporters are still singing and cheering.
“I don’t believe in burning things down,” she said, but she added that it’s frustrating “to see them still happy and not storm the convention center and sit in.”
The longstanding bitterness between Sanders’ supporters and Clinton’s seemed to grow worse over the past few days after a trove of hacked emails showed that officials at the Democratic National Committee played favorites during the primaries and sought to undermine Sanders’ campaign.
Sanders on Monday criticized Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and urged supporters to fall in line behind Clinton for the good of the country. But many were unmoved.
Thousands gathered in the streets outside the convention at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, and some tried to scale the 8-foot walls around a restricted zone. Police and the Secret Service arrested four protesters.
By midday Wednesday, only about 75 people were at the nearby park that has become a base for the protesters.
Jennifer Hall flew into Philadelphia from California and said her fellow Sanders supporters seemed tired. She said she came to “comfort the heartbroken, mourn with the mourners and help sustain the effort” fighting against two-party politics.
“We can all cry and keep going,” she said.