I am sitting in the media tent at the Wells Fargo Center, normally a pretty backwater sort of place at the Democratic National Convention. Things are generally pretty unexciting here, which is kind of the whole point. It's a place where media types can find a desk, a power supply, and some peace and quiet to write their stories up without the distractions of the convention itself, which is right next door.
However, a mild form of chaos has erupted. Almost immediately after Hillary Clinton was officially nominated by Bernie Sanders, at the end of the roll call of the Democratic delegates, hundreds of people streamed into the tent in a coordinated protest. From where I sit -- literally about fifteen feet from the action -- it seems like the aftermath of a major walkout of Bernie Sanders delegates from the floor of the convention.
I say it's a mild form of chaos because the protest (so far) has been one of the quietest I've ever witnessed, and I've been to protests of all sorts for decades, now. Most of the protesters are sitting peacefully on the floor or standing with black gags tied across their mouths. When they first entered, there were a few scattered cries ("Fire the DNC!" and whatnot), but since then they have been in small groups clustered around the widest areas of the floor.
The police presence, as you might guess, is numerous, although also fairly quiet. The cops early on realized something was going on and barricaded the doors in, preventing hundreds of other protesters from entering the media tents. I've heard that media credentials will get you in and out of the doors, but have not personally tested this yet. Delegate credentials are being barred from entry, which is kind of a turnabout of the normal status of the badges -- delegate badges normally allow you on the floor of the arena, while media have to make do with temporary 30-minute floor passes.
Nobody has any idea how this is going to end, and I have currently no way of knowing how the television networks are covering it (the only screens inside the tent merely have the straight feed of what is happening inside the arena. The show seems to be going on without pause, but inside these tents (there are actually three gigantic interconnected tents in a large air-conditioned complex) house all the major networks and other key media (print, electronic, etc.).
So we seem to be at a standstill. Caught inside, not really knowing if the protester's story is getting out, I just had to jot down a quick dispatch to get the story out. As I said, there isn't much central organization or any spokespeople in evidence, so it's not like they're making demands or anything, so all I can say at this point is that this is a developing story. I apologize for being caught without any multimedia devices (not even a digital camera) so I cannot provide any images. But it has got to qualify as the strangest thing to happen at a political convention in a long time.
I'll try to post more later, if the situation develops any further.
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