ELECTIONS

Sanders Supporters Rally at DNC

The wild card at the convention. Supporters of the runner up who seem to care less about whether the nearly 20,000 damning DNC emails dumped by Wikileaks were from Russian hackers than about what they show: that the DNC, instead of being neutral in the primaries, favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Today we’ve taken to the streets. NJTV News Correspondent Briana Vannozzi is outside the convention center and speaks with Anchor Mary Alice Williams.

Williams: Bri, how are you doing?

Vannozzi: Well, hot. But we’re here. Mary Alice, good evening, in what’s dubbed the free speech zone. This is a designated protest area. It’s in FDR Park. And just to give you a sense of where it is, it’s directly adjacent, across from where the Wells Fargo Center is, the convention center. Behind me is a mainstage where you can see Bernie supporters, other demonstrators flocking in, filing in to a mainstage where another large rally is going to happen. Thousands took to the streets today, despite the heat. That hasn’t stopped anyone. As if they weren’t already fired up about Hillary Clinton’s VP pick of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the Wikileaks scandal really erupted among his supporters. It’s sort of cast a shadow over this convention. The unity message was supposed to be the primary hope here and instead it’s sort of got folks here feeling like let’s just get through this. Now, Bernie did meet with some of his New Jersey delegates and the rest of his delegates here face to face today and he didn’t relinquish his delegates to Hillary Clinton. It’s really been sort of a soft endorsement. I spoke with a few of our New Jersey members who met with him today. They said the fight continues. He’s not suspending his campaign. He urged them to continue the struggle, to continue carrying his message and they’re going to vote for him. They’re not going to give up those votes and it’s just pushing them to fight harder. I should mention that security is very tight everywhere around the city as these protesters have marched through the streets. You can see and likely hear helicopters above me right now. There’s been a strong police presence both on bike, on foot, in the air as well. They’re specifically watching this area because it’s been designated for the protests. Again the majority of the demonstrations are being held by Sanders supporters though there are others here from a lot of other factions — energy, clean environment, peace factions. So the Bernie supporters are really dominating. The DNC late today we found out did issue a formal apology to Sanders. They finally acknowledged these emails existed. They said that the remarks made in them were inexcusable, but so far that’s not sitting well with protesters:

Protesters are braving the steamy heat. Lining the streets, marching from City Hall through downtown Philadelphia.

They’re here for different causes — peace, clean energy, an end to fracking. But the main attraction continues to be for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“If they want to keep their party and keep their power, they have to earn our respect. Otherwise the DNC is dead to us. We are here for Bernie Sanders, not the Democratic Party,” said philly.fyi Executive Director Billy Taylor.

Sanders supporters are holding what they call a political Woodstock all week. As the Wikileaks scandal unravels and the ousting of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz plays out, it’s adding fuel to an already raucous fire.

“They’ve proven our vote no longer matters, but where our power lies is in our registration form. So we’re threatening a massive de-registration and we’ll organize that,” Taylor said.

Carrying a coffin representing “Death to the DNC” pro-Sanders organizer Taylor is attempting to orchestrate a mass exodus from the Democratic Party. The latest flap is widening the rift among supporters.

“Here it is in black and white that everything that we’ve been saying from the beginning is absolutely 100 percent true. It doesn’t suggest there was corruption. It doesn’t suggest the DNC has been working against Bernie. It proves they have been working against Bernie since the beginning,” said Liz Maratea, New Jersey delegate for Sanders.

Even Sanders’ own pledged delegates are split on how to move forward, despite his endorsement for Hillary Clinton.

“The whole point of the progressive party, the whole point for Bernie supporters, is we think for ourselves, we don’t do what other people tell us to do. Even if Bernie tells us to vote for Hillary, no we are voting with our conscience. We don’t vote against people. We’re not voting to be against Trump. We’re voting for the candidate that we want,” Maratea said.

“It’s sad, but this, as hard as it is to admit, this really is not all about Bernie Sanders,” said New Jersey Sanders delegate Jeff Epstein. “She may win, but I don’t need to be happy about that.”

Will he vote for Clinton?

“I’m not Bernie or bust. A lot of my friends are,” Epstein said.

Some still holding out hope Sanders could clinch the nomination.

This is just a sampling of what’s to come. The Philadelphia mayor’s office expects tens of thousands of protesters to demonstrate every day this week. And at least Bernie Sanders supporters are saying the theatrics won’t disappoint.

“They go into their offices. And they sneak around and they undermine elections and they steal elections and then they say, ‘Oh we didn’t do anything.’ They’re lying, stinking rats,” said Sanders supporter Waffles T. Clown.

As the calls to unify continue, Democrats are watching and waiting to see if it actually happens.