On the train to Philadelphia Connie, Rachel, and I met two Bernie supporters from Montreal who said they had made the trip to show their support for Bernie Sanders and protest a Hillary Clinton nomination, because U.S. politics influence Canadian politics. We left the train as a group, intending to march together with Jill Stein, Cornel West, and the Green Party, but the crowds were thick and we were separated.
Protestors gathered at the Philadelphia City Hall. Cornel West was speaking, but we were too far away to hear what he was saying. The sidewalks were filled with people of all ages and races, and the streets were lined with police on bicycles who had apparently been instructed to ignore the smell of marijuana in the air. After West finished his speech, he and a few others gathered behind a #March4OurLives2016 banner to kick off the march, followed by a sea of people from Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. Some space on the sidewalk cleared, and we were able to move in close enough to hear Jill Stein.
Each statement Stein made was followed by hearty cheers from listeners, but one statement struck me to the core:
This movement for democracy and justice, which you have unleashed through Bernie’s campaign, you have lifted up what so many of us have been working on in the social movement for so long…
Admittedly, I had heard of the Green party a long time ago. I was never opposed to it, but I had the attitude that the Republican and Democratic parties were the only ones people would take seriously — that a Green vote would just take away from a candidate that could actually win. My attitude about the Green party has changed tremendously, but that’s a blog for another day.
After Stein spoke, we marched over five miles in the sweltering heat, holding signs over our heads
(Image of Trump and Hillary smiling together) Either way, Wall Street wins. Fight for a political revolution!
Iraq, Libya & Syria in ruins, millions dead. Say no to the war makers’ candidate!
We aren’t trying to start a political revolution. We are the political revolution.
Bernie or Jill.
This rigged election is invalid.
We won’t stand with election bullies.
Hell no, DNC, we won’t vote for Hillary!
What do we want? Democracy. When do we want it? Now.
Bernie or Jill. Never Hill.
We are the 99%.
Sanders beats Trump!
One of the chants didn’t make much sense to me:
Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.
Democracy can get messy sometimes. But when democracy functions as it should, you don’t expect to see people marching through the streets angrily shouting about what democracy looks like.
Fire hydrants were opened every mile or so, and protestors welcomed the cool relief of the man-made showers. Residents brought garden hoses and fans plugged into extension cords out onto the sidewalk. The Philadelphia fire department sent people out on bicycles to hand out cold bottled water.
At the convention center protestors from many different groups converged to make their feelings perfectly clear to the unpledged delegates entering the facility:
Hell no, DNC, we won’t vote for Hillary!
People beat their hands or signs against the four mile, eight foot high fence in time with the chant. Delegates walked past the sweaty boisterous mass in their air-condition-ready clothing, some of them smiling, others pretending we weren’t there, some of them recording us on their smart phones, others shaking their heads, wagging their fingers, and shouting back at us.
Street preachers scolded the protestors for being gay, drunken, lying, murderers who would go to hell if they didn’t repent and believe in Jesus.
We grew tired of the noise and took a walk through FDR park, making our way to where the Green party rally would be held. But a storm rolled in, cutting the rally short. Jill Stein thanked everyone for coming, and urged us to take shelter under the nearby Interstate 95 overpass.
Hundreds of people gathered there, I suppose to wait out the storm and return to FDR park for other scheduled protests, but I was feeling very ill from heat exhaustion, so we flagged down a cab and headed back to the hotel room. Our cab driver was amazing. He was ready with a barf bag and paper towels. We showed our appreciation with a 15$ tip. Rachel woke up in the middle of the night and got sick as well.
We later learned that Jill Stein and Cornel West went and joined the group gathered under the overpass. In contrast, Hillary Clinton accepted her nomination via New York on a large screen in the Wells Fargo Convention Center.
Patricia Lynn Reilly posted this to the Facebook group Florida for Bernie or Green 2016. It really captures what I and so many other Sanders supporters felt:
The Moments After the Convention
I can only speak for myself, but nothing changes for me post Bernie’s concession. I’ve already left the Democratic Party and joined Jill.
I believe change happens from the bottom up, and the bottom is rumbling in a language the top does not even hear or understand.
Tonight the top put on a show that was plastic, scripted, costumed, neoliberal perfection funded by Hillary’s corporate sponsors. Tonight was an attempt to conjure up trust in an untrustworthy candidate. Tonight was smoke and mirrors, hiding the dysfunction lurking in the soul of the party and distracting from the absolute dishonesty upon which the night was built. (Remember WikiLeaks?)
Outside of the convention and in the noisiness and tears of Bernie’s precious delegates, was the reality. The marchers chanting for justice. The homeless chanting for breath. The pink women chanting for peace. Tens of thousands rumbling in strength, speaking truth to power.
That’s where I choose to dwell in my final decades. With those at the bottom. With the Green people who choose people, peace, and planet above profit. With the brown and black people whose lives matter. With the poor and working people on whose backs everything gets built. When we all RISE UP, then and only then, will everything change!