Poor tactics at the DNC: Invading a press tent with a taped mouth

A Bernie Sanders supporter (in white) resolutely records a journalist as he records her. Jim Galloway, jgalloway@ajc.com

A Bernie Sanders supporter (in white) resolutely records a journalist as he records her. Jim Galloway, jgalloway@ajc.com

PHILADELPHIA – You’ll have to pardon me. This file is slightly late, delayed by an invasion of Bernie Sanders supporters who stomped out of the Democratic National Convention on Monday – and took over the nearest thing possible.

Our working space.

This is no Bastille. It is a massive but flimsy tent with bad chairs, little desk space, but good wi-fi. We’ve had worse. Hundreds of angry Bernie supporters flooded the place, with hundreds more outside. Robin Hood hats were common.

Many had taped their mouths shut — though visiting a journalist-filled tent with duct tape over your mouth smacks of poor tactics.

State troopers, city cops, special cops, and such quickly filed in as well, mixing with dozens of self-reporting reporters. Try as they might, the protesters couldn’t get themselves arrested. Or even detained. “They detained themselves,” one very friendly Philadelphia cop said.

It was just one more mark of frustration in a very frustrating day for Sanders supporters. Which began, oddly enough, with the nomination of Bernie Sanders for president of the United States.

His was the first name placed in nomination, by U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. She called him a “grumpy, 70-year-old guy,” but otherwise spoke of him kindly.

A Bernie Sanders protestor leaves our media tent, unable to find someone to arrest him. Jim Galloway, jgalloway@ajc.com

A Bernie Sanders protestor, unable to get arrested, leaves our media tent voluntarily. Jim Galloway, jgalloway@ajc.com

It was the fellow who seconded the nomination that gave the game away – an IBEW official who knew his grammar. “Bernie not only fought for people. He empowered people,” said Paul Feeney of Boston. That’s right. He used the past tense.

And then Feeney, even as he nominated Sanders, endorsed Hillary Clinton.

So the end was written even before the arena rocked with the nomination of Hillary Clinton by a diverse trio: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, followed by Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta and Na’ilah Amaru, a former combat veteran and former resident of Atlanta.

Then the roll call of states began, a tedious thing that plodded on for nearly two hours before Vermont chose to finish it. Bernie Sanders, the delegation’s most prominent member, had already endorsed Clinton the previous night, but he had one more gift for the first woman ever nominated for president by a major political party.

“Madam chair,” said Sanders, mike in hand, “I move that the convention suspend the procedural rules. I move that all votes, all votes cast by delegates, be reflected in the official record and I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic party.”

Clinton was elected by acclamation. Bernie Sanders may have campaigned 15 months, his adherents may have worked their tails off. But official Democratic records will forever say the vote was unanimous for Clinton.

A few minutes later, I was huddled with Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry and Khalid Kamau, who provided two of 29 Sanders votes in the Georgia delegation. (Clinton won 87 delegation votes.)

Kamau, a former bus driver who is now a field officer for the state House Democratic office, says he will vote for the Democratic nominee – as will Terry. But Kamau didn’t buy into any free will behind Sanders’ self-sacrifice in Philadelphia.

“It felt like a crucifixion, because he was about to cry,” Kamau said. “Unfortunately, the Democratic party has been so thirsty, or the Hillary Clinton campaign — they’ve been so thirsty to give the appearance of unity.

“That might be the thing that just pushed thousands of Bernie delegates and the millions of voters that follow them out the door. It might have been a bridge too far,” Kamau said.

Kamau is youngish – in his thirties. His math may be a little off, but his passion is genuine. Enough so, that I felt obliged to go type his words into the Internet and maybe onto some newsprint.

And that’s when I ran into hundreds of people, some with Robin Hood hats and others with taped mouths, at the front door of the office. With hundreds more inside. Who believed that their leader had either betrayed them, or was martyred.

Just another day in Philadelphia.


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