DNC protesters keep up pressure on Democrats to take a turn to the left

Crowds of protesters swarmed City Hall most of Monday, marching in waves down Broad Street to make their voices heard as the Democratic National Convention got underway.

Many of the protesters were Bernie Sanders supporters, their anger roiled by Sanders urging them earlier in the day to vote for Hillary Clinton.

“We’re not automatons, we don’t do what Bernie Sanders says, we do what we believe,” said Michael Parks, a Bernie Sanders supporter from Indianapolis. “She [Clinton] didn’t win in a democratic way, she didn’t win anything, and if they appoint her, we will show them exactly what democracy is by leaving their party and voting for [Green Party presidential candidate] Jill Stein.”

Parks said he believes Donald Trump will win the election.

“I am convinced that Donald Trump will win,” he said. “I do not like Donald Trump, [but] he is a four-year disaster. Hillary Clinton is an eight-year disaster. … If Donald Trump would become president, it would increase activism in the country.”

The protesters representing various left-wing causes are continuing to push a progressive agenda at the outset of a convention that Clinton and even Sanders are hoping will bind rather than divide Democrats for the coming campaign against Republican nominee Donald Trump.

But leaked emails that show top DNC officials privately opposed Sanders’ presidential campaign during the primary season are only continuing to inflame Sanders’ supporters.

“It’s a confirmation of things that Bernie people have known all along,” said Luanne Inn, 43, of Virginia, “that this election has not been fair, that therehave been a lot of things going on through the media and the DNC that have benefited Hillary to his disadvantage and affected the election results … I would like for Hillary Clinton to step down. I think it would be the honorable thing to do.”

But others weren’t as confident about the risk of continuing to support Sanders over Clinton as the election race draws near.

“I honestly think we’re risking it so hard right now, with a Trump presidency,” said Dylan Ramos, 20, of Hawaii. “If I lived in a swing state, I would probably be voting Hillary. But because Hawaii is such a strong blue state, I feel OK voting for Jill Stein.”

Protesters ranged from supporters of Stein, to pro-marijuana legalization activists, anti-poverty activists with Cheri Honkala’s Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and anti-deportation activists.

Mingling with the Sanders supporters were several hundred “jaywalkers,” organized by the group that promoted legalizing marijuana in Washington, D.C., last year. They marched carrying flags and signs showing Benjamin Franklin smoking a joint.

“Legislatively, we want cannabis freedom for all Americans,” said comedian and one-time City Council candidate N.A. Poe. “That’s the bottom line. No cuffs, no fines, no jail cells. We are thrilled that the DNC is adopting marijuana reform into their platform. We believe that descheduling cannabis at the federal level is the key to that becoming a reality.”

City Councilman Derek Green, stepping out of City Hall into the chaos of hundreds of protesters, said he enjoyed the displays of the First Amendment right of free speech.

“Where else would you want to have it than in the birthplace of our country?” he asked.

After protesters marched down Broad Street to the Wells Fargo Center, dozens staged a sit-in outside as the convention kicked off Monday around 5:30 p.m., withs several attempting to scale a fence into a restricted area.

Police said 54 individuals, 32 males and 22 females, were detained by police and issued disorderly conduct citations, which carry a $50 fine.

Additional reporting by Alexis Sachdev and A.D. Amorosi