PHILADELPHIA — Bernie Sanders supporters will make their last stand during a Democratic National Convention that could produce high drama and protests both inside the hall and out.
“There’s an angry feeling among a lot of the Bernie delegates,” said Jeff Cohen of the Bernie Delegates Network, a growing group of 1,250 of the 1,894 Sanders delegates in Philadelphia this week. “I expect something, I don’t know what. I hope it’s strong, but peaceful.”
Sanders supporters’ grievances range from their belief that the Democratic primary race was rigged — a view that was reinforced by the release of thousands of hacked emails over the weekend — as well as the selection of Virginia U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton’s running mate.
Cohen said his group surveyed Sanders delegates in the network and found that 89 percent of respondents found Kaine “unacceptable.”
Approximately two-thirds said they would either publicly denounce or emphatically protest during Clinton’s acceptance speech Thursday night.
“The reaction of the choice of Kaine goes from disappointment to anger,” Cohen said of the delegates’ responses.
Kaine, who is liberal on social issues, has drawn the ire of Sanders’ backers on global trade and Wall Street regulation issues.
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters who back Sanders are planning to demonstrate near the convention hall this week. A group called Occupy DNC plans a rally and march today, hours before Sanders addresses delegates in prime time.
“The goal of this is to show the country that we’re united,” said Laurie Cestnick of Lincoln, who is organizing the protests. “We are strong, and we’re not going anywhere.”
Cestnick said they are working on coordinating with delegates inside the hall to potentially organize a synchronized protest that would echo from the Wells Fargo Arena out to the streets.
Protesters also are considering holding a “de-registration party” to unenroll from the Democratic Party.
Asked about the protests and his supporters’ ire, Sanders said yesterday that he believes they will rally behind Hillary Clinton.
“Most of my supporters understand Trump has got to be defeated,” he said in an ABC interview.
However, Cestnick said many Sanders supporters are still unsure whether they’ll support another candidate, such as Jill Stein of the Green Party, or write in Sanders’ name in November.
Cestnick said Sanders supporters were hardly surprised about the thousands of hacked emails from the DNC that came to light over the weekend.
“We’ve know this for a very long time, that it’s been rigged,” Cestnick said. “It’s no surprise to us. For us, it’s kind of old news. Maybe the rest of the world is catching on.”
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