PHILADELPHIA — Dozens of protesters and Bernie Sanders delegates stormed off of the Democratic National Convention floor Thursday night, less than an hour after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was officially named as the party’s nominee.
The stream of protesters surged into a tent reserved for reporters, staging a sit in to show their dissatisfaction with what they described as a rigged nominating system that favored Clinton throughout the year, ultimately minimizing the voices and votes of Sanders and his supporters. Protesters pushed between the Wells Fargo Center and the press tent, blocking the path for reporters heading to the convention speeches.
"We came here to the convention trying to understand how the rules work," Jason Allen, a delegate from Oregon, said, claiming the DNC failed to respect their own rules and essentially pushed for Clinton to be the nominee. "This convention has been a long, expensive commercial for Hillary Clinton."
The protesters — a diverse group that included Native Americans, African-Americans and white people — expressed discontent with the political process they witnessed at the DNC, with many saying they were participating in a political capacity for the first real time in their life. They had been pushed away by Democrats throughout the election season while a Democratic Party they reckoned should have remained impartial allowed party insiders to quietly push Clinton into the nomination, they said.
"This whole campaign has been minimized. Now we know we weren’t making it up and all the people in charge were promoted," Michele Horne, a former teacher in South Carolina, said, referring to the recent DNC email leaks that showed an inside effort favoring Clinton. They tell us to 'just settle'? That’s what people who can afford their prescriptions can say."
Police throughout the encounter remained calm and the two sides did not physically clash.
The protesters, many of them delegates, gave a variety of reasons for their fidelity to Sanders, if they gave them at all. Some noted a simple desire to show that rules had been broken by Democrats. Others expressed a sadness that a candidate they felt was once-in-a-lifetime had been kept from the nomination while others said the connection was spiritual.
"Anything will weather down to Earth, wind, water and fire," Robert Satiacum, a delegate from Washington state said. Sanders "won me over by his actions, not is words."