My Experience at the Democratic National Convention Protests in Philadelphia 2016

We will not yield!

We will not yield!

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

Martin Luther King Jr.

First I would like to thank 2 people for really making this happen – my wife, asthma Tatsiana, prostate and our friend, bronchi Betsy Bowers. Without their support, I would be a really sad panda. Thank you for being part of the team which assisted me in taking part in a historic moment!

This rather large post will not be so exciting due to a few factors which will be listed below, but I will talk through my experience here for my own benefit and for posterity.  Factors:

  • I arranged this trip quickly so I did not plan and research things as well as I could have
  • I am quite shy so talking to random strangers, even ones that I will most likely have a lot in common with when attending a protest, is not my thing
  • Cabs are really expensive to get around in
  • It was really hot and humid out there. I mean yikes!!
    It burns us! It chokes us!
  • I had limited time

I really, really wish I had a computer to sit down and write my thoughts, a notepad to take notes in, and a camera to take pictures with so I can organize a post like this with more detail. =(  Well, to be honest, an assistant would be even better! Let me know if you would like to volunteer for my next crazy adventure. =) Maybe next time.  I will really get to my thoughts on things in an upcoming post about the Bernie or Bust movement and why it matters, and why it is the only answer towards an actual solution. I think with the fraudulent coronation of Queen Hillary that things have come into a much clearer perspective.

Arranging the Trip and the Trip There

A week or so before the convention I had originally been looking at attending the whole protests from Monday through Friday, but as I was looking at flights on whichever site I was, it appeared as if the 1-way flights were $500-600 each which would be over $1,000 total for airfare which is ridiculous. We could not afford that and everything else that goes into a trip, especially the costs of hotels, so with a deep sadness in my heart I had to say that I could not go. Most likely, I was misreading it, but I looked several times to make sure, because these prices seemed crazy. Albeit, I  only checked that one site, so this would be my fault for not searching for alternatives to verify the seemingly crazy prices.

So, the Monday of the Convention, with a heavy yet wistful hope in my heart, I longingly did a little research on airfare again and found that they were $500-$600 round trip which is what I was expecting price wise. I contacted the wife and I received the OK for the second time. I had already previously made most of the arrangements I needed for babysitting, so I just verified those and then bought the tickets. That night was a mad night of some shopping for things (backpack, camelback, and other small items) and packing. I finished up preparing the next morning and we left at around 11pm for my flight leaving from Madison to Chicago to Philadelphia @ about 1:19pm.

I had only 2 carry-ons – a new backpack and a small roller suitcase, although they checked both into baggage on one flight and one in for the other flight, which had never happened before as far as I can remember and I have flown a lot (over 30 times), so that was confusing. When I arrived at both locations I had no idea where to pick up my bags. It apparently wasn’t the baggage claim. =( Apparently, they were going to be brought out near the gate, so that was stressful and a lot of missed time, and a lot of sweat and running. Although one airport lady was kind enough on first time to try to meet me to bring my baggage to me so I would not miss my next flight. =) The flights to Philadelphia went well other than my baggage confusion.

Arriving in Philadelphia

Tuesday, July 26 with 91 degrees and 62% humidity

While I was confused about my baggage situation I arrived in the Philadelphia baggage claim as the TV mounted over the silver baggage carousel announced that Bernie Sanders said let’s have the vote @ ~6:55pm local time. I took a picture of that screen and posted to Facebook the following message: “We just witnessed the death of democracy.” My stomach was a mess for the rest of the night. I can only imagine how horrible it was for Bernie to say those words out loud. It is bad enough to think them, but to actually have to say them and be part of the coronation of the person who orchestrated election fraud, voter suppression, money laundering and collusion to steal the election from him and the people. I do not think he will ever be able to recover from this. Only time will tell. Fortunately, Bernie’s superdelegates staged a walkout in protest to the stolen election, which is no real consolation, but we do have that moment.  =) =(

We have just witnessed the death of Democracy

We have just witnessed the death of Democracy

https://www.facebook.com/FreeXenon/posts/10153775356118354

First Night in Protest Area

Tuesday, July 26 with 91 degrees and 62% humidity

After that I called a cab and arrived at the 20th and Pattinson (I think these were the street names)  at one of the entrances to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Park where the “Free Speech” zone was  =(  I could see the black fencing that was around the Wells Fargo Center where the convention was being held from here and the wall of police behind it. There were officers everywhere inside and outside of the Democratic National Convention (DNC)  area. Many streets were blocked off to control and restrict traffic, even parts of the interstate were limited too.  At the entrance on the road were city garbage trucks or other large similar trucks which were blocking the road to prevent traffic from passing through. Democracy? Where the voice of the people was so far away from those that needed to hear it, so far from the area of those who were supposed to “represent” us. =( Democracy? That word, I do not think it means what it is they think it means. =( Free speech is everywhere in the country just not behind a fence where our voices and concerns cannot be heard.

Outside the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia

Outside the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia

I wandered around and there were a lot of people talking and singing, and had signs protesting various things from the TPP, GMOs, War, electoral fraud, the drug war, and some that were pro-Bernie, anti-Hillary, or were various shades of Bernie or Bust, or pro-Jill Stein. I was at home here. I was with my people and it felt good, reassuring, heartwarming that I was really not alone. I was with those who understood me and I understood them. This was a strange yet comforting feeling, although I still felt quite alone since I knew no one here and was a bit too shy to start a conversation. Introversion is a mixed blessing. This is not one of those times when it  a blessing, unfortunately.

I wandered around to see what I could see and eventually made my way towards the very back depths of the Free Speech area at a rally with a black stage. Up there was a black rapper who was rapping some political stuff for us and also performed something political that he was working on. After that Debbie Lusignan, The Sane Progressive (Youtube, Facebook, Twitter) talked for a little bit and then introduced several people like her fellow YouTuber Tim Black (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter), activist YahNe Ndgo (Facebook, Twitter), and 2 Bernie superdelegates, one of which was Tim Friend (if I remember correctly) who is also running for office somewhere and seems to be doing well. He is taking Bernie’s path to try to reform the Democratic Party from within and that is great, although Debbie was all #DemExit.

 Debbie Lusignan, The Sane Progressive @ a rally in Philadelphia protests

Debbie Lusignan, The Sane Progressive @ a rally in Philadelphia protests

I respect and value both methods of reform. I am #DemExit and #BernieOrBust which is easy for me since I have been a member of the Green Party for 3 years or so,  but we really need to attack the problem from both ends if we are going to see change. Not everyone could stomach, especially after this election, working inside the corrupt Democratic Party and not everyone is comfortable working outside the party. It is up to each person to contribute to the revolution in a way that plays to their strengths.

As I finished the night I walked towards the park exit to start walking to where I could get a cab. I walked near the fence to see what was going on and there were people there with signs and were singing ‘We are in this together’. I followed them for a little while on the right side  of the group and then decided it was time to call it a night. This video is of the group I was with  towards the front right, although I think I had left by the time this video was taken.

Now keep in mind I said that I arranged this trip quickly, which also means that I did not arrange for a place to stay. I was sort of hoping to talk to some people and see if I could crash with them. A lot of people were camping, but I could not do that because I would not be able to sleep in the horrible heat and humidity. I would die like that. Well, being that I am as shy as I am I did not talk to anyone, but I was able to get a room @ Motel 6 North East which, strangely, given its rather labyrinthine layout had no elevators and no signs pointing to the lobby. This was very annoying and meant I had to leave the building to figure out how to walk to the front to find the lobby without getting continuously lost. I showered to get all of the stink and sweat off and then went to bed to prepare for a long day tomorrow.

Only Full Day

Wednesday, July 27 with 95 degrees and 74% humidity

My Ukrainian Cabbie

In the morning (~ 11:00 am) I was taken to the FDR Park by a Ukranian cab driver, named Marcus. We had a good talk and he gave me his personal card and arranged for me to call him when I needed to go back to the motel that evening. We talked about politics, the convention, him coming to America with his family, life in Russia before he came here in the late ’80s and early 90s, and his life here since he came to America.

My Ukranian Cabbie named Marcus in Philadelphia

My Ukranian Cabbie named Marcus in Philadelphia

The Young Turks and Jimmy Dore

Shortly after I arrive in the sweltering humidity I came upon a few people standing around – 2 of which wore black The Young Turks (TYT) (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) t-shirts and one had a TYT microphone. My jaw dropped in shock at the possibilities. I was hoping to see them while they were here, because TYT rocks. They rock enough that I threw money at them this year to support their truly progressive news channel. I stood near and listened and after a little bit I was invited to join their circle. Three of them were TYT supporters and two of the three were prolific tweeters to TYT during their show. The guy holding the TYT microphone was TYT staff and the other was a local cameraman hired to work with them. They talked for a little while and I listened as they were trying to plan their day and talking about TYT stuff. It was just great to see them and know they were here. After a while, Jimmy Dore (Youtube, Facebook, Twitter) came with one of their producers. I was able to shake Jimmy’s hand! Squee!  Once Jimmy went to work interviewing people I shadowed them until they decided to call it quits for lunch and air conditioning. While I shadowed them and watched Jimmy Dore interview various people I was able to have some interesting conversations with the presence of TYT here acting as a catalyst for conversation. TYT, bringing people together!

Jimmy Dore of The Young Turks at the DNC Protests in Philadelphia

Jimmy Dore of The Young Turks at the DNC Protests in Philadelphia

https://www.facebook.com/FreeXenon/posts/10153776847843354

Conversation with a Libertarian

My first conversation was with a Libertarian while Jimmy was interviewing some Libertarians who were camped out in the park and congregating. A Libertarian who was very unhappy with Jimmy  ended up growling while he passed and sprayed some pamphlets at him.

I talked Middle Eastern Foreign Policy with him, although he did not have too many answers or any answers that were better than mine, but my thoughts revolve around the following ideas:

  • An incredibly aggressive 5-year plan to shift from fossil fuels to alternative energy (most likely end up being a 10-year plan, but we can start with 5 years and see what happens). This would work on the national security issues of climate change, energy independence and getting us out of the Middle East. Oil is one of the only reasons we are there. Once we dump fossil fuels and remove the leverage that the OPEC nations have over us then their economy will start to tank which will drastically change the balance of power.
  • Arms embargo to all nations in the area including Israel. Hell, almost all of the weapons there are American made and provided since we trained and funded all of the terrorist organizations there. An arms embargo would starve the region of weapons. Hell if we really wanted to sock it to ’em, when our troops leave we should confiscate as many weapons and ammo as possible too.
  • Have Saudi Arabia (and other regional Islamic countries) provide the front-line soldiers in the war against the Jihadists and ISIL with NATO and the US providing ancillary support
  • We cannot defeat a religion because it is a concept, an idea, and henceforth can never die, so the next step would be a guerilla education program to drop educational materials, radio programs and TV programs into the fundamentalist Arabic countries to reduce the control of religion against the imposed ignorances of their religious practices

These are just my modest thoughts on this horribly complicated issue.

Conversation with Michael Pellagatti of Occupy Wall Street

Next, I talked with Michael Pellagatti (Facebook, Twitter), the man who is known as the Occupy Wall Street Tour Guide and he seemed to have some anarchist leanings. He had no problem with people destroying other people’s property and said that he was a pragmatist. I said that promoting that ‘it is not good to destroy other people’s stuff’ was the most pragmatic thing and to only care about property destruction when people were destroying your stuff was very Republican or Libertarian mode of thought – as in – you do not care about others and their plight until it affects me, then I care. Uggghhh! But, the rest of the conversation was interesting enough, especially to have met a person who was one of the founders of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

Michael Pellagatti, The Occupy Wall Street Tour Guide a the DNC protests in Philadelphia

Michael Pellagatti, The Occupy Wall Street Tour Guide a the DNC protests in Philadelphia

https://www.facebook.com/FreeXenon/posts/10153776953353354

edit: An interesting analogy he left me with was about climate change – global warming is analogous to our fevers. Earth has been infected with a virulent strain of humans who are poisoning and destroying the Earth’s form. In an effort to combat this infection, Earth’s defenses are starting a fever (global warming) in order to create an environment  hostile to the infection in hopes of destroying it to restore balance to its biological systems. I am sure others have heard this before. I am sure I have too, but I have definitely forgotten it. He brought this up in our conversation and it was refreshed anew in my mind and for that I am thankful. This metaphor really gets to the heart of it. We are the disease, the problem, and we have the power to fix it all. We, the people of Earth, need to stop being a virulent an infection and need to make a radical attempt to restore balance to Earth’s ecosystems and environment or this “fever” will destroy us all. It has happened before and it will happen again. Earth will remain but we humans will be wiped from existence since we are heading for an extinction level event. Our willful ignorance and unwillingness to stop the problem when we definitely can will be our undoing. Our hubris will destroy us as is typical of most decadent societies unwilling to face its corruptions.

Conversation with a Veteran

I talked with a Navy vet who was interviewed by Jimmy Dore and who was a part of anti-narcotics ship based off the east coast. He has handled a big gun in the process of his work and a moment in time that inspired his diligence was what the horrible tragedy that happened to the USS Cole. We praised the Young Turks, thanked each other for our service, and consoled each other on the state of things, especially the stealing of the election.

David Cobb, The Move to Amend Guy

The very last interview they did that morning was with David Cobb, the man who started to Move to Amend movement (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) which is about amending the constitution to overturn the Citizens United to remove money from politics. He was great. Jimmy let him just run with it and he did his very well-practiced spiel until he was done. He has definitely done this a few times. Yea!

David Cobb, the man who started to Move to Amend movement at the DNC protests in Philadelphia

David Cobb, the man who started to Move to Amend movement at the DNC protests in Philadelphia

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3.6 Mile March to Philly Town Hall with Just Us Riders

Following the TYT’s last interview with David Cobb I wandered around a little bit and found a man with an alpaca named Shae… an alpaca in the middle of Philadelphia. Naturally, I was curious about this. The man’s name is Ethan Abbot (I think)  and he started JustUsRiders.org (Facebook, Twitter). He goes from town to town staying at various farms with his menagerie of animals – something like 2 alpacas, 2 sheep, 2 pigs , and 4 chickens, I think.  He has taken that alpaca right into the middle of a boardroom or town hall meeting to bring attention to the issues. An animal is a good gimmick to attract attention.

Ethan Abbot of JustusRiders.org and his alpaca, Shae, at the DNC protests in Philadelphia

Ethan Abbot of JustusRiders.org and his alpaca, Shae, at the DNC protests in Philadelphia

With Shae in tow he marched about 8 of us from the FDR Park protest grounds through town to the city center at the Town Hall with him occasionally saying through his  megaphone something like:

“Yes ma’am, this is an alpaca!

Are You fed up?  Time to take back:

…our farms,

…our families,

…our food

…our freedoms,

from the corporations.

Get off your couches, turn off your TV’s and do something about it.

Come Join Us.”

There was a little more to his megaphone spiel, but this is all I can remember. He really enjoyed the megaphone and watching people’s responses and their attraction to the alpaca. He said that the day before he made that 3.6 mile trip many, many times over a period of 12 hours. I am glad he was there, but that is a crazy level of dedication especially in that heat and humidity.

We arrived in the center of town, where Black Men for Bernie (Facebook) were holding a rally. I was tired, hungry, sweaty as hell, my knees were burning and my camelback had run out of water for the first time. With another person from the march (the green shirt carrying water in the picture) we went to the bathroom, got water, and ate at Subway. Normally, I do not order a foot long, but after that 3.6 mile march through the heat and humidity,I ordered and summarily devoured a foot-long tuna sub. Once we rested a little bit and finished our subs we then took the subway back towards the FDR Park and returned to the “Free Speech” protest area.

Black Men For Bernie rally at Philadelphia town hall

Black Men For Bernie rally at Philadelphia town hall

Jez Coulson, Photojournalist for the Sunday Times

After we returned to FDR Park I spent some time near the tent that was providing free food to protestors so I could rest my feet and knees and to listen. Among the nearby tents and people talking I was a bit surprised to find many people were smoking normal cancerous cigarettes and some were smoking pot too. I rested, sat, and listened for a while and then walked over and sat on the only bench I have noticed in the park.  Eventually, I made my way back towards the tents, people, and the food tent and saw this thoroughly British looking guy dressed all in black (shirt and pants) with a camera or two and some equipment strapped to him so I thought I would hear his story.

He is a very well known British photojournalist named Jez Coulson (Facebook, Twitter) who works for the Sunday Times. He has traveled all over the world even into some war zones to get pictures. He was mostly based in the US, but still did a lot of traveling for work. We talked about the election and how the British saw Trump and the stealing of our election. He saw parallels between the elections and our sad pair of candidates and the Brexit movement, both of which are sadly very bad for all involved. After a little while, he moved on to get more pictures of the event.

Rally Speeches

I had considered not staying for any of the rally speakers that night, but I tried to endure for as long as I could. I was here, so let’s do it! I heard some speakers talk about the Monsanto and other GMO corps poisoning Hawaii and their kids. I heard a speaker from the Organic Consumers Association talk about bioremediation of soiled lands. I heard some other speakers on a few other important topics that I cannot remember as of this writing. I really needed to bring a notepad and pencil on this trip. I am an idiot for not packing one. =( To take advantage of what little time I had here in Philadelphia I stayed as long as I could to listen to as much as I could.

I was so tired and exhausted from the heat and the humidity and the march earlier that day that I decided to call it quits near 8:00 pm. I felt bad since there was so much more going to happen later in the night, but I just could not take it anymore, or perhaps I am just getting old. If there was an easy place to sit down out of the heat and humidity, or even take a shower I might have endured late into the night, but these were not to be found, so I called Marcus, my Russian cabbie, and, sadly, I made my way to the motel to retire for the night.

Last Partial Day

Thursday, July 28 with 95 degrees and 74% humidity

Wandering the Park

Marcus, my wonderful Russian Cabbie, brought me to the FDR Park @ 8:00am, nice and early, so I could still check things out before I had to leave. I expected that there would still be a bunch of people there since there was one more full day left of the convention, but as I was walking through the park it was empty, a ghost town, like no one had been there before, as if nothing had happened. The only signs that there were protestors here over the last few days were  the portapotties off in the distance and the occasional orange and white barriers which still had been not returned to their homes with the city’s street department. Even though cars are now able to drive through the park and joggers were jogging the park paths, the spirit of the protest still lingered. You could still feel the spirit of anger, rage, defeat, hope, and an emotional viscosity still palpable in the air. I did not see any tents or signs or any sort of gathering. It was quiet with just a few people lingering.  It was as if the corruption that spawned such protests and anger had consumed it again, like it was a natural part of the cycle.

Slowly I walked further into the park with my backpack and camelback on which soaked my back with sweat while my carry-on suitcase rumbled behind me. I came upon a large open pavilion near the lake with 4 people talking. A man named Michael ,who traveled here with his tribe and was here in support of Shailene Woodley’s (actress from Divergent series) organization and their work here at the convention, was talking with 3 people and was telling them that he and his crew were arranging a live streamed healing ceremony @ 2:00pm for people to be heard as to why they are angry or why they are protesting in a hope to diffuse their anger. Feeling like we are being heard can be powerful. I sat there and just listened as he courted a few more passers-by with his event.

Another person came up who seemed to know him, perhaps from his tribe in one way or the other. Michael seemed to have a unique skill set – perhaps he was trained as non-violent communication facilitator or experience in tantric communication. I asked him a few times what his training was in but he would not divulge. =) He worked with this friend who had made his way here and had no money at all for the ride back or for his family back home, but he was here to be a part of history and to try to make a difference. Michael used his skills to negotiate helping him with his financial situation and to help him get a ride back home, hoping that some of his tribe would be able to get him some of the way home when their tribe started their migration home. I eagerly threw in my cash as soon as he said something even before the negotiation had begun. I was thankful for the experience and to have witnessed and to have been allowed to help out what little I can.

On my way further into the park in I picked up a few pieces of plastic garbage, stuff that would normally just be there due to careless park-goers, but I knew that it was here because of the protests, lingering here as the city finished its clean-up, the last remaining vestiges of the people gathered to protest the widespread corruption and fraud in our government and in our political parties. As I traveled deeper into the bowels of the FDR Park near the tennis courts I saw there was still a bit of life left in the park – a bottled water tent  was still open and a few tents with people here who were still here conversing, sharing, perhaps even mourning the death of democracy, and celebrating their time here. This group was all hidden away from prying eyes with no indication that they were here for a protest, that perhaps they were here just for camping  for the week.

Leaving the Revolution

I left a little early to go to the edge of the park to rest my feet and wait for Marcus to come pick me up. I sat on one of the few large rock there at the edge of the park entrance and waited for to Marcus pick me up near 12:00pm so I could go to the airport and begin my return from the Revolution. In our talks we made arrangements to go to Bells Market which are a series of grocery stores which are owned by a group of Russians and sell a lot of international food in the Philadelphia area. He was excited to show me this and to take me there. It was pretty big and had an incredible amount of international food. I bought some sweets for my sweet back home in hopes that these would help to assuage any of her annoyances with my trip. Happy wife, happy life, right? I knew she would like this. I bought for her something Russian called Zephyr which are like our pinwheels, and a few other sweet things. I arrived at the airport two hours early and was whisked through security with a crap load of time to wait for my flight.

The Philly airport and Philidelphia itself, what little I saw of it, was really clean. My flight was delayed by at least an hour because of rain. I had an almost a two-hour layover in Charlotte, NC so I was not worried too much.  By the time we arrived in Charlotte there was just enough time to get to my gate in time to board. I was freaking out while trying to run through the crowds of people. With a heavy breath, I stopped one of those airport cart people and he agreed to take me all the way to my gate which was quite a bit away. The glorious black man’s name was Jason. He was my hero. Although I did arrive there right at the time when they were supposed to be boarding, it turns out that there was a delay in the flight because the first officer’s flight was delayed and had not arrived yet. We waited almost an hour before we could board. I did all of that running and worrying for nothing. =(

In closing

On my drive home with the wife and kid, while thinking to myself while they slept, I kinda also wished that I had approached this as an opportunity to as research for a blog post and not just a post about being there as a part of history and for the experience. This would have me paying more attention to picture opportunities, having a camera with me, actually knowing what is going on and when, and so on. It would have made the trip even more productive.  I also wish it had not been so hot and humid. I wish I had been more prepared. I wish that I was not confused by the airfare screens. I wish I was not so shy. =(

I can say that I was there, that I tried to do my part. I have a post titled What did I do to Help Bernie? and spreadsheet to prove it. =) I can not add this to the list the ways I participated in the Revolution. I can tell my daughter and my grandkids that I tried to do my part and to explain it to them. I will have the satisfaction that we did not go down without a fight and, hopefully, my daughter and eventual grandchildren will remember this example that I have set so they will not be so complacent when it comes to politics and to try to be politically aware so when the moment comes they can lend their voices and make a difference.  This whole movement is not about Bernie. It is about us, our children, and the future of the human race.

Viva la revolution!

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

#DemExit #BernieOrBust #BernieSanders #StillSanders #BernieSanders2016

#JillNotHill #JillB4Hill #JillStein #Green2016 #29ForStein #ImWithHer #JillStein
#TimeForStein #SteinBaraka2016

#NeverHillary #HillNo #NeverHillary #StealingIsNotWinning #HillaryClinton
#WikiLeaks #DNCLeaks

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