Protests Mark First Day Of Democratic Convention

Jul 25, 2016
Originally published on July 25, 2016 7:51 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and the floor of this convention, as you can hear - loud, chaotic, tense. From the moment the proceedings started, supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been shouting at each other, often drowning out the speakers on stage. And at the same time, thousands of protesters have been rallying outside the arena as well. Many are Sanders supporters, who are frustrated with the party's nomination process.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Hell no, DNC. We won't vote for Hillary. Hell no, DNC. We won't vote for Hillary.

CORNISH: Now, NPR's Hansi Lo Wang has been following the demonstrations all day. He joins us now from outside the convention arena. Hey there, Hansi. What does it look like out there?

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Hey, Audie. I don't know if you can hear the helicopters hovering ahead of me - lots of security here because there's a large group of protesters, their noses to the security fence right where delegates are walking to get their security done. A lot of these protesters have been marching in the streets of Philadelphia all day today crossing bridges. And I met with some of them, and they encountered actually - I encountered one incident involving a Hillary supporter. This is Jacqueline Grant of Philadelphia. She met up - kind of ran across some Bernie supporters, and here's what she said to them.

JACQUELINE GRANT: We have moved on.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Who have moved on?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The people have...

GRANT: Hillary is going to be our nominee.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, no, no. It's time to stand up. It is time to stand up to our government.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, she won't be the next president.

GRANT: Give me a break, people. Give me a break.

WANG: So you can hear right there the fractures within the Democratic Party right here in the streets of Philadelphia. I did talk to one Bernie supporter. She says she's not sure what she's going to do if she can't vote for Bernie this November. She told me she would probably vote for either Hillary or Donald Trump. Her name's Kaylyn Mitchell. She's from Quakertown, Pa., and this is what she said.

KAYLYN MITCHELL: Do I believe that a Trump presidency is worse than a Hillary presidency? The answer to that is I don't know because I believe with a Trump presidency, he's going to have Congress that's going to obstruct him way worse than even President Obama. Whereas Hillary Clinton, she is more deceitful, and she will mislead the American public into thinking that she's something, but her actions say something else.

WANG: So you can hear there just one of the protesters here, one of the Bernie supporters, who are really conflicted and are also expressing a lot of frustration here today out in the streets.

CORNISH: And we had an inkling of this when we looked at sort of the permits that were pulled for protests. Many of them were for pro-Bernie Sanders groups. How does this compare to the protests last week in Cleveland?

WANG: Well, out in Cleveland, the numbers were just not at this scale. Today, we've seen thousands. Yesterday, we saw thousands even before the convention began here in Philadelphia. And these are folks who are coming from all over the country with lots of different issues. And it's just a much bigger crowd, and we're expecting this to continue through the week.

CORNISH: Response from police so far?

WANG: It's been fairly tame. We'll see how tonight goes. It is the first night of the convention, and Bernie Sanders is speaking. There might - a lot of supporters out here outside the arena waiting to hear what he says.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Hansi Lo Wang covering the protests here in Philadelphia out in the street. Hansi, thanks so much.

WANG: You're welcome, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.