PHILADELPHIA — Shortly after delegates at the Democratic National Convention officially nominated Hillary Clinton to be the party’s presidential candidate on Tuesday, a group supporting her ex-rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, stormed into tents outside the Wells Fargo Center arena where members of the media had workspaces. The group walked in chanting, but eventually went silent as they were swarmed by reporters.
“This is about failed neoliberal policies and they had a chance to save themselves from themselves with Bernie, but they completely blew it. So, that’s what this is about. This is a Dem exit,” an Ohio delegate named Mary Findley explained to Yahoo News.
It was impossible to gauge the size of the protest as the large crowd that gathered at the front of the tent included at least as many journalists as protesters.
During the primary, Sanders and his campaign repeatedly alleged the Democratic National Committee was biased in favor of Clinton. Along with this, they questioned the results and processes in individual states. Many Sanders supporters who believe the primary was unfair to him felt their suspicions were confirmed when Wikileaks released leaked emails on Saturday showing DNC staffers discussing undermining his campaign.
“This came about through a lot of reasons, a lot of discontent with the DNC in general,” Findley said of the protest.
Bernie supporters are blocking media tent right outside the Dem convention hall pic.twitter.com/McsOe8Awyf
— Jon Ward (@jonward11) July 26, 2016
Sanders endorsed Clinton earlier this month. On Monday evening, the first day of the convention, he made an impassioned plea for his supporters to get behind her in spite of their disappointment with the primary. While there were few disruptions from the pro-Sanders contingent in the arena as Clinton was officially nominated on Monday, there were also groups of protesters outside the DNC’s secure perimeter who have been expressing their dissatisfaction with the results.
The three media tents outside the arena include curtained-off workspaces for many outlets, including the New York Times, Reuters, Politico and Yahoo News. After the protesters entered, a group of police officers blocked the doors to the tents, leaving some of the demonstrators outside.
Alex Davis, another Ohio delegate who participated in the protest, told Yahoo News why they selected the media tents to hold the demonstration.
“It’s exposure. We’ve experienced the media blackout of Bernie Sanders and so we’re forcing you to cover us,” Davis said.
Both Davis and Findley said they were with a group called Socialist Alternative that helped organize the protest. Findley also said other groups helped plan the demonstration.
Sanders supporters who refuse to back Clinton face criticism from other liberals who claim they are aiding Republican nominee Donald Trump. A man who participated in the protest at the media tent countered that by suggesting Clinton was likely to perform worse than Sanders in against Trump.
“I’ll tell you what, they just elected Donald Trump in there,” he said.
The man declined to give his name.
Several protesters said they hoped to “occupy the media” because they believe coverage of the primary was biased in favor of Clinton.
Protesters eventually began negotiating with police and asking to leave the media tents. Multiple demonstrators who spoke to Yahoo said they wanted to return to the arena to watch the “Mothers of The Movement” speak. The mothers are a group of African American women whose children were killed in police-involved shootings. They have been campaigning for Clinton and spoke at the convention on Tuesday evening.
Yahoo News overheard an official tell the protesters he could not give them permission to leave until he confirmed they would not be charged with trespassing. The group was eventually allowed to leave the tents. As of this writing, a handful of protesters are still in the tents doing interviews, but the majority have dissipated.
Watch video of the protest below:
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) July 26, 2016
This post was updated at 8:45 p.m. after the protesters left the tents.