As the Democratic National Convention meets in Pennsylvania July 25-28, the Philadelphia Inquirer predicted 35,000 to 50,000 protesters would descend upon its city. Eugene-based CodePink activist Jennefer Harper traveled to the DNC as an EW freelancer to report upon events. CodePink is a women-led grassroots organization that includes in its focus working to end U.S. wars and militarism and supporting peace and human rights initiatives. Delegate Julie Fahey went to the DNC to cast her vote for Hillary Clinton.
At last week’s Republican National Convention, CodePink founder Medea Benjamin interrupted Donald Trump’s nomination speech when she held up a pink banner bearing the words “Build Bridges, Not Walls” before being escorted out by police.
Harper tells EW, “Both inside and outside of the Wells Fargo Convention Center, the loudest voice, en masse, are those of dissent. Chants of ‘Hell no DNC, we won’t vote for Hillary,’ and ‘Bernie or Jill, never Hill’ can be heard non-stop.”
On the first day of the convention, Sanders supporters marched through the city. Harper says, “Fifty-four protesters were arrested and cited, and over 30,000 marched in a 3.7-mile protest.”
When the marchers came to the Mississippi state flag that was erected for the DNC as a part of the Avenue of the States on Philadelphia’s Broad Street, Harper says that a sit-in occurred and activists demanded that the flag, which features the Confederate flag emblem, be taken down. She reports that after about an hour of pressure, the police brought in a utility truck with a ladder and a total of two Mississippi flags were removed.
Harper says, “Even though we can acknowledge that the Democratic Party has sold out to big corporations who use politicians as puppets, the demonstrations at the convention shows the power of the people and with this sustains our hope for real change and reminds us that this change must come from the people, not politicians.”
Fahey is attending the DNC as a delegate for Clinton — who secured the historic presidential nomination on July 26. Fahey says for Sanders supporters, “It’s tough coming out on the wrong side of a campaign you’ve given so much time and energy on.” But, she adds, “I think every Democrat in this room realizes how high the stakes are in this election.” She says aside from a small minority from three to four states she thinks the vast majority of delegates are united.
Sanders supporters sit-in to protest the Mississippi flag and its confederate emblem. Photo: Jennefer Harper
Fahey, who is running for Rep. Val Hoyle’s seat in the Oregon Legislature this fall, says that her overall takeaway is how different this week has been from the Republican convention: “The diversity of voices, the focus on the future versus dragging us back into the past, ideas and policies versus hate, inclusion versus division.”
To follow Harper at the DNC on Livestream, go to livestream.com/accounts/9447130