It’s nearly certain that Bernie Sanders will lose the Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton at this point, but his supporters are making plans to ensure they have a voice at the party’s national convention in July.
Philadelphia, where the convention is to take place July 25-28, has approved four demonstration permits for events in support of Sanders near the Democratic National Convention site, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
One of the permits authorizes an event that includes four days of all-day rallies at FDR Park, which is next to the Wells Fargo Center, the arena where many of the Democratic National Convention events will take place. Philadelphia expects about 30,000 attendees at the pro-Sanders rallies in the park, and organizers told the Wall Street Journal they hope to see more.
Democrats have been increasingly worried that Sanders’ supporters could make the convention where they will officially select their nominee chaotic and divisive, CNN reported. These fears were further stoked after Sanders supporters grew rowdy and violent at the Nevada Democratic Party’s convention last weekend, throwing chairs and personally threatening state party Chairwoman Roberta Lange. Those incidents occurred when Sanders supporters thought the Nevada Democratic Party’s rules were unfair and viewed the party’s refusal to change the rules as a prime example of a rigged political system.
Sanders himself has said he plans to stay in the race at least until the final Democratic primary is held. Even after that, he said, he may try to flip superdelegates away from Clinton by arguing he is the stronger general election candidate. Despite the longshot nature of that plan, his fans remain very committed and have made it clear they want to influence the Democratic platform this summer.
In addition to the four days of rallies in FDR Park, Philadelphia has granted permits to three smaller events at Thomas Paine Plaza, which is a few miles away from where the Democratic convention will take place. Those events are expected to draw 2,000 to 3,000 participants.
The events are being organized by people not affiliated with the Sanders campaign, and aim to underscore the enthusiasm around Sanders’ candidacy as well as advocate for changes to the Democratic Party’s system for nominating candidates.
“The whole Bernie movement is an ideology. If Bernie wins the nomination, wins the presidency, that would be amazing. But even if Hillary does win the nomination, the movement has already started,” Steve Okan Layne, an organizer for one of the demonstrations, told the Wall Street Journal.
The size of the events could depend on how much support Sanders gives them. If he wants to wield maximum influence, he could encourage supporters to show up at the convention even if he does not become the party’s nominee. But as Democratic leaders grow nervous about the tenor of the race, organizers are working to keep the demonstrations peaceful.
“We are marching. If you’re planning on coming here with violence in mind, we don’t want you,” Bill Taylor, one of the organizers, told the Wall Street Journal.