PHILADELPHIA — Democrats loyal to Bernie Sanders signaled their intent to leave the party and protested inside and outside the convention hall after front-runner Hillary Clinton on Tuesday won the presidential nomination.
“We all have this unrealistic dream that democracy is alive in America,” said Debra Dilks, 53, of Boonville, Missouri, who isn’t sure she’ll vote in November. “Hillary didn’t get the nomination. The nomination was stolen.”
Thousands of activists have taken to the streets of Philadelphia during the Democratic convention this week to voice support for Sanders and his progressive agenda. Some stormed a media tent near the Wells Fargo Center after delegates inside Tuesday evening made Clinton the first woman nominee for president of a major political party.
“Shame, shame, shame,” a group of delegates chanted as they walked to a train station afterward.
“I think people were hoping we could sway the delegates and show that there really is a movement here,” said Alexis Holmes, a school janitor in Carbondale, Illinois, who has been protesting in the city since Sunday.
Unmoved by Sanders’ plea for party unity, the “Bernie or bust” protesters walked miles in the hot sun again Tuesday to make their case for the Vermont liberal.
They held a midday rally at City Hall, then made their way down Broad Street to the convention site. By early evening, a large crowd had formed outside the subway station closest to the arena.
The crowd consisted of an assortment of protesters espousing a variety of causes, but mostly Sanders supporters and other Clinton foes on the left. College student Cory James expects the Democratic Party to split over the nomination.
“I suspect we are witnessing an event that will fundamentally change American politics,” said James, 22, of Flint, Michigan.
Earlier in the day, participants at the rally charged that Sanders was cheated out of the nomination by Clinton, and they said they weren’t swayed by his Monday night plea to his supporters to fall in line behind Clinton for the good of the country.
“He persuaded no one to vote for Hillary,” said Greg Gregg, a retired 69-year-old nurse from Salem, Oregon. He said he intends to cast his ballot in November for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, quoting the turn-of-the-last-century socialist labor leader Eugene Debs as saying, “I’d rather vote for what I want and lose than what I don’t want and win.”
For a brief period Tuesday afternoon, pro-Sanders demonstrators who set out for the convention site by subway were forced by police to get off one stop short of their destination. In a crowd-control measure that was also used the night before, only passengers with media or convention credentials were allowed to ride all the way to the Wells Fargo Center.
The longstanding bitterness between the Vermont senator’s supporters and Clinton’s seemed to grow worse over the past few days after a trove of hacked emails showed that officials at the Democratic National Committee played favorites during the primaries and worked to undermine Sanders’ campaign.
Black Men for Bernie founder Bruce Carter said Monday’s speeches from Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren did not persuade him to support Clinton.
“They really agitate people more every time they stand up and do the Hillary Clinton, hoo-rah hoo-rah,” he said. Carter, a Dallas resident, said he doesn’t fear a Donald Trump presidency: “I’ve lived under nine white presidents in my lifetime.”
With temperatures climbing again toward the mid-90s, Chris Scully, a 28-year-old an engineer from Troy, New York, held a “Jill Before Hill” sign outside City Hall and said he opposes Clinton because of her war record as secretary of state.
As Scully spoke, a passer-by called out: “That’s a vote for Trump!”
In a separate protest, this one against police brutality and racial injustice, about 500 people marched down Broad Street to City Hall. Protest leader Erica Mines told the crowd it was an “anti-police rally” and a “black and brown resistance march” and instructed all white people to move to the back.
The crowd chanted, “Don’t vote for Hillary! She’s killing black people!”
March participant Tiara Willis, 24, of Philadelphia, said she subscribes to the slogan “I’m with her … I guess.” She said she won’t back Trump and called Clinton “the lesser of two evils.”
On Monday evening, 54 people were cited for disorderly conduct for trying to climb the barricades outside the convention center during a pro-Sanders demonstration. Police estimated 5,500 people took part in the convention’s opening-day protests around the city.
Many of them chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the DNC has got to go!” and carried signs reading “Never Hillary,” ”Just Go to Jail Hillary” and “You Lost Me at Hillary.”