By Dr. Michael Flanagan
“Whose streets? Our streets!” Yes they were, for today in Philadelphia at least.
Siting here in the perimeter of the Wells Fargo center, in the press area blogging for the MOMocrats, I am listening to the crowd chanting “Bernie, Bernie” every time his name is mentioned. I am not sure that is what the establishment politicians want to hear when they keep calling for unity. I marched here to the DNC with several thousand Bernie supporters. Many of those same supporters had stood for hours by Independence Hall, baking in the oppressive heat.
There were various issues being touted from stopping the TPP, calls to stop Native American genocide, legalizing marijuana, and banning fracking. There were countless handmade signs decrying the DNC’s now proven bias, and when I say proven I mean to the apologists who denied the bias and fraud by the DNC, saying Hillary Clinton won “fair and square”.
As we marched to the Wells Fargo Center, the chants and mic checks reverberated with “show me what Democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like” in that call and response cadence. “Ain’t no power like the power of the people and the power of the people won’t stop, say what”! We walked for miles, headed by determined citizens, many of whom were disabled, several in wheel chairs.
They led, we followed. That is indeed what democracy looks like. Or at least what it is supposed to look like. People gave water to strangers, and thanked the Philadelphia Police who were not dressed as storm troopers, but as public servants who were here to protect and serve. I repeatedly found myself thanking them, and I was not the only one. They responded “you’re welcome.” We took the streets, and they did not try to stop us. It felt almost like a free country for a minute there.
After several hours we arrived to counter protests from some radical Christian group, that resembled the Westburo Baptist Church. They spent a good bit of time telling us how evil we were, and how terrible the things I fully intend to do after this convention are. Several of the geniuses used a bullhorn, so I guess that means they are right. When I attempted to enter the convention by showing my MOMocrat Blogger media credentials, the main entrance was swarmed with protesters, and the very same police who were marching with us, had now surrounded and blocked the entrance with the same bicycles they had just been riding. I pushed through the crowd but was told it did not matter what credentials I was wearing I was not going anywhere at that moment. The police were telling people on the sidewalk they risked arrest if they stayed there. I was contemplating going home at that point when someone much craftier than I decided to sneak me through the bus entrance, as there were no protesters there. I showed those officers my press passes and sailed through. Some people protesting eventually started climbing the police barricades and were arrested. The joy of the march definitely took a turn for the worse. And yes, that is also what democracy looks like.
Frustration and anger with a rigged system manifests into civil-disobedience. Now I sit here, writing my first blog piece for the MOMocrats, watching a convention to nominate Hillary Clinton for the Presidency. And based on the crowds I have walked with all day, that seems like a very strange thing. A chant that comes to my mind right now is “is this what Democracy looks like?” Yeah, no need to answer that. Bernie Sanders will be speaking tonight. Speaking for the frustrated and marginalized Americans I just marched with. “Not me, us”. “Whose streets, our streets”! Yes they were today, at least for a few miles.