Moments after Hillary Clinton was announced as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee on Tuesday, hundreds of delegates walked out of the convention center. Protestors carried Bernie Sanders signs and chanted, “Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.”
Many protestors staged a sit-in – what they called a “silent revolution” – in the media tent and armed law enforcement officers stood at the doors of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia blocking media and protestors from getting in and out of the media tent.
“She’s not entitled to the presidency – no one is – and that’s all we’re asking for is fair,” said a delegate from Texas outside the convention. “What I would want is a lesson for all of us as Americans – how easy it is for our election to be bought. Hopefully we’ll get wiser.”
A line of Pennsylvania State Troopers marked the path of the protesters, many of which have bound themselves or taped their mouths shut. Some protestors have told Metro reporters that they feel like their voices haven’t been heard.
Vinod Seth, a delegate from North Dakota, called it a “sad day.” When asked whether she will vote against Trump, his wife Aruna fought back tears, saying: “We are in mourning. It is too soon to ask us to move forward.”
John Fetterman, the husband of a delegate and father of three small children, says he thinks Shiva is over.
“If you’re not supporting Sec. Clinton, you might as well go get a ‘Make America Great’ hat,” Fetterman said. “The stakes are that high.”
Fetterman said he fears explaining a Donald Trump presidency to his kids.
“You’re entitled to feel disappointed. You’re entitled to feel a tinge of sadness [but] you should feel incredible that we’ve nominated a woman for the first time ever. We should do everything we can as Democrats, as patriots, as citizens to do everything we can to defeat Donald Trump. That’s all that matters.”
In order to move forward, the Democratic party needs to unite, but many delegates said they feel that the DNC “rigged” the election, particularly after the WikiLeaks DNC email leak on Friday.
“Now, with all these repeated calls for unity, the delegation feels like they’re being disrespected, condescended to and in some cases even bullied which is kind of ironic considering how Sanders supporters are always painted that way,” said Michael Fortes, an at-large delegate for California.
NBC News reported that the protest was staged and organized using word-of-mouth, Slack channels and Facebook groups.
“We had to set up the element of surprise,” said an Ohio delegate, Mike Grom.
The signal for the walkout was given either verbally or by text.
“It was a bit of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks,” said one of the walkout organizers, Washington Richard May.
That sort of decentralization could be what keeps the Democratic party from sticking together. As Sanders supporters have taken this cause beyond Bernie and into their own revolution, reaching the disenfranchised and disillusioned seems like an impossible task.
“The healing has to start within the DNC itself,” Fortes said. “It was a very positive first step that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz stepped down. That was a positive first step; however, it doesn’t end there.”
Not all of the walk outs were protesting the nomination. Julie Sandoval from Chicago works for the DNC and said she got stuck in the outer room when the “civil” protest began. Though she understands that Sanders supporters are upset, Sandoval said it is time to get behind both Clinton and Sanders as the DNC “[joins] forces and [goes] after the guy that is full of hate,” referring to Republican nominee, Trump.
“This is a moment for women,” Sandoval said. “This should be all about Hillary – and Bernie helping her to be the first woman president of the United States – and someone in the room has got to celebrate that. So I’m here to celebrate that.”
When asked what he thinks needs to happen for the healing to begin so the unity can start, Fortes suggested: “The leadership of the DNC can take a close look at their internal processes and their internal controls as far as conflicts of interest and impartiality and how that’s really practiced and really look at their internal culture – how they speak to each other about the different candidates, how they present that to the outside world – and really work toward more congruency because as the leaked emails showed, there is no congruency, and you can’t have trust without congruency and you can’t have unity without trust.”
The sit-in lasted about an hour and 20 minutes before breaking up peacefully.
Frank Burgos, Sam Newhouse and Evan Macy contributed to this report.