As the Democratic National Committee moves forward with a convention plagued by chair resignations and other institutional chaos, Bernie Sanders’ supporters gathered in the hundreds to protest presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton and a party they feel has abandoned their concerns.
Anybody who visited Philadelphia City Hall this afternoon (July 25) witnessed protestors’ effusive support for the Vermont senator and his populist platform. While most of his supporters in attendance were White, numerous people of color also stood up in support of Sanders. We spoke with a few of those supporters about why they support a candidate who—save for a major intervention—will not become the party’s nominee in the general election.
Charles Lopez, who traveled to Philadelphia from Chicago with a friend, told us about his anger at a corrupt electoral system that ignores the marginalized. ”I’m tired of seeing people oppressed left and right,” he said. “People have all this debt, can’t afford their medical bills, the list is just immense.” He mentioned the Wikileaks release of DNC emails that lead to former party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation, saying that it is evidence of collusion against the Sanders campaign. Lopez also said that while Sanders’ winning the nomination seemed unlikely, he’s “hoping for a Hail Mary.”
Katherine Barshan and MarShondra Lawrence traveled to the convention from Olympia and Detroit, respectively, as part of the “Bernie Peacekeepers” group. Barshan described the group as an anti-violence collective whose members support those who appear distressed during actions and intervene when conflict erupts between factions. Both contrasted Sanders’ racial justice record with Clinton’s. ”Bernie has always stood on the side of justice,” said Lawrence, “and he didn’t leave race out.” Lawrence added that Clinton “has done a lot of harm to the Black community.” Barshan noted how Sanders let racial justice activists speak after interrupting him at a rally, while Clinton admonished an activist who interrupted her at a fundraiser.
Caesar and Chelsea Oviedo traveled with family from North Carolina to Philadelphia. Holding signs reading “Latinos Con Bernie,” they shared their hope that Sanders could still win the presidency. “I think that all the issues other candidates talk about come from him, they spoke about it after he did,” said Chelsea. “He’s not just for a certain group, he’s for everybody of all races, backgrounds and incomes.”
Kevin, who did not provide his last name, sold Sanders shirts from a stand set up near city hall. The Pittsburgh resident said the convention energy actually seems more focused on Sanders than anybody else. “No one mentioned that Michelle Obama’s going to be here today,” he said. Sanders’ advocacy for free community college and increased minimum wage convinced Kevin to support Sanders during primary season and continue his advocacy even as the convention begins.
Jenny (not pictured), a young Filipino-American woman who came with friends from New York, said the protests had more to do with the reformist and progressive policies Sanders promoted than the candidate himself. “The revolution’s not just about one person, it’s about policy change. We want election reform, for all the votes to be counted next time, and more progressive people in government positions.”
Are you attending the DNC this year? If so, why? Let us know in the comments.