5 Portraits of Protesters at the DNC
Last week, thousands of protesters stormed the streets of Philadelphia as the Democratic National Convention was underway. Hillary Clinton emerged from the DNC as the party’s nominee for president, but many of the people I photographed outside of the convention hall were not so satisfied with voting for her in November. More of these portraits were previously published on Occupy.com.
Olivia Vazquez is a youth organizer for Juntos, a nonprofit working with issues affecting the Latino-immigrant community in Philadelphia and a leading organization for the Migrant Rights March last Monday. “We want to send Hillary a message that our families are still being torn apart and we want them to take action immediately,” said Vazquez. She is not supporting or opposing any candidate at the time we spoke.
Jason Hara traveled to Philadelphia from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as a Sanders supporter and a democratic socialist who’s beliefs are in line with the Sanders campaign. “I’m here in hopes of swaying the super delegates,” said Hara, whose been a Democrat since turning 18. Now, he is considering changing parties. Hara is certainly not voting for Trump, but he is remaining open minded about voting for Hillary if it means stopping a Trump presidency. He’s also considered supporting Jill Stein as a statement, but he’s really worried about Trump. “It’s been a shit show,” said Hara. “I’ve never felt like I was voting between two evils, but it’s different now.”
Jeremy Davis is a student and a certified nursing assistant who came to Philadelphia all the way from Waco, Texas, with the Black Men for Bernie caravan. Before joining Black Men for Bernie, Davis was a strong supporter of the Sanders campaign. “I love everything he’s stood for, everything he’s fought for in the past. Then I got the call from Black Men for Bernie, which is pushing to get young African Americans registered to vote and part of the political system, so I just hopped on the opportunity to get involved and try to make a difference,” said Davis.
“I hope that our voices are heard and that people continue the revolution at the state and local levels and that we just keep fighting for the change that we’ve been fighting this far to see. Bernie Sanders may not get the nomination, but the things he’s stood for, we have to keep fighting for,” said Davis. In light of mounting evidence of a bias within the DNC favoring Clinton, Davis is skeptical about putting his trust back into the Democratic Party. As for the election in November, Davis is undecided, but will definitely not be voting for Clinton. “There’s no way I could vote for her,” said Davis.
Pier Cicerelle is a social worker and an educator who lives in Philadelphia. She is missing work and spending time away from her two-year-old to facilitate peaceful demonstrations with Bernie Peacekeepers, a volunteer group aiming to maintain safety and enable people to stand up for what they believe in through peaceful demonstration. “I’m promoting peace and nonviolence and social justice action is really important to me” said Cicerelle, which drove her to join Bernie Peacekeepers for the convention.
Cicerelle may have been a registered Democrat since age 18, but said she needs to do some serious thinking about remaining in the party. “Honestly, it’s really hard, but I can’t imagine not doing everything I can to prevent Trump from becoming president,” said Cicerelle, leaving the option of voting for Hillary on the table. Most of her friends and family are very divided on the decision as well. After being a Nader supporter in the 2000 election, Cicerelle has second thoughts about voting for a third party candidate like Jill Stein. “Mitigating damage is important when you can, and we can still work towards a Jill Stein presidency. I just cannot be a part of allowing Donald Trump to become president,” said Cicerelle.
Megan Malachi is a teacher and organizer from Philadelphia who along with other young Black leaders planned the Black DNC Resistance March on Wednesday of last week, standing up in name of Black lives and speaking out against Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, police terrorism, economic inequality, gentrification, underfunding of predominantly Black schools, and the school to prison pipeline that’s created a system of mass incarceration. While one might assume Malachi is supporting Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein, “my vote is going to the Workers World candidate, Monica Moorehead and Lamont Lilly,” who addressed the marchers at City Hall.
“We are in a political moment where we can push the envelope, we can dismantle not only the racist neoconservative Republican Party, but also the racist and equally destructive neoliberalism of the Democratic Party,” said Malachi, as she marched down Broad Street. “We can actually sit down and work on creating solutions that speak to the aspirations of the Black working class and also other communities of color — something that has not been properly addressed before.”
More portraits of protesters at the DNC originally published by Occupy.com:
Sarah Hoss was a volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign in Oklahoma City and drove 20 hours across the country with her mom to attend the pro-Bernie protests in Philadelphia this week. It was after the Nevada Democratic Caucus when Hoss really started seeing that “the Democratic nomination was completely rigged,” she said.
If Sanders had been treated fairly, Hoss said it would be a different story at the DNC. As far as how she votes in November, this week will say a lot and she hopes the Democratic establishment will at least acknowledge the protesters — even if it’s just to say “we hear you.” Regardless, Hoss said there is no chance she will be voting for Clinton in the general election after her contradictory statements in the Democratic debates about supporting a $15 minimum wage. Living in a red state like Oklahoma, voting outside of the Republican Party is largely symbolic, regardless of the candidate. However, she said she will remain a member of the Democratic Party in order to support state and local level “Berniecrats” running for office.
Imanuel Mesiah is a community activist working on issues affecting the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. “I came out here for justice, and to see that democracy is not destroyed,” said Mesiah. In an act of protest, Mesiah tore up his Democratic Party membership form after Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned over the Wikileaks emails Sunday — confirming Sanders supporters’ accusations that the DNC was pulling strings in Clinton’s favor throughout the primaries. But while Mesiah may have already left the party, he said he doesn’t think Jill Stein has a chance as the Green Party candidate. Instead, he wants to infiltrate the Republican Party and advocate from within, pushing for clean energy. He might even vote for Trump, he said, as another symbolic protest.
Jennifer Rojas is a student in Dallas, Texas, but originally from Southern California. “I’m missing school and work — I’ve put everything on pause to be here,” said Rojas after speaking from the public microphone at one of the Sanders rallies outside the convention. “I’m here to protest against voter suppression and election fraud across this country,” she said. Prior to this election, Rojas had never been a Democrat, and had never voted until she was impassioned by the Independent senator from Vermont — and she plans to keep it that way. “I’m still voting for Bernie — Bernie or bust all the way.”
Tony Preciado is an artist based in Portland, Oregon who flew to Philadelphia in protest of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s nomination. “There is a substantial amount of credible evidence that this was a fraudulent election, and as Americans we cannot accept that,” said Preciado. In order to make it here, Preciado said he paid for his plane ticket out of pocket and must spend time away from his family. If Clinton is nominated, Preciado will be leaving the Democratic Party. He will be voting for Jill Stein if Sanders is not nominated.
Wesley Irwin also came all the way to Philadelphia from Oregon. Irwin is a pledged delegate to the convention, and he is also a candidate for the Oregon statehouse representing communities in the North Seattle area. “We haven’t seen a chance like this to create fundamental change since the Civil Rights Movement. Regardless of the outcome of this undemocratic nomination process, we must continue to fight,” said Irwin.
As a guest to the convention, Irwin said he is here to stop Donald Trump, and Clinton is not the candidate to make that happen. In the likely case that Sanders is not nominated, Irwin is prepared to “fight like hell” for Jill Stein. “Now is the time for a peaceful revolution. Lets help build a brand new Congress and take our country back.”
Nicole Lutkemuller is an ecologist, a geographic information systems analyst and a pledged delegate for Bernie Sanders from California. As a delegate to the convention, Lutkemuller hopes the rules committee will not be suspended so they can abolish super delegates, and that the platform committee will adopt stronger language on the TPP. “The Democratic Party does need to unify, but it needs to recognize that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to beat Donald Trump,” said Lutkemuller. “He has the ability to pull people to his side, while Hillary is pushing people away.” Lutkemuller is remaining uncommitted about how she will vote in November until after the convention. There is a chance she will vote for Clinton, she said, but there is no chance she will vote for Trump.
Brie More is a model and a cannabis activist from Boston who came to Philadelphia for the “Jay-walk” for de-scheduling cannabis as a class 1 drug and ending what she called the racist war on drugs. More didn’t come to support or oppose any candidate for president, but to represent the medical patients, veterans and people suffering from chronic pain and other illnesses who are incapable of accessing medical cannabis as an alternative to addictive prescription medications. In terms of the presidential election, More said she is deciding between voting for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein — but never Clinton or Trump.
Steven Menendez is a portrait and fashion photographer from New York City who came to Philadelphia this week to show his support for Bernie Sanders’ platform. He joined the Democratic Party in 2007 to vote for President Obama, though he has no attachment to or willingness to stay with the party and he’s looking more into leaving it. “I’ve been attracted to the fire and passion of Bernie Sanders and that’s why I’m here,” said Menendez.
Jessica Creery is a PhD student in Chicago who came to Philadelphia to participate in nonviolent direct action tactics planned by Democracy Spring and occurring throughout the convention. Creery had never risked arrest in a nonviolent protest before and her record is clean otherwise. “Democracy Spring provided a very clear path for me to take action,” said Creery. Her belief that democracy is nonexistent in today’s political system was solidified after the New York Democratic primary, where hundreds of thousands of voters were purged from the voting rolls in Brooklyn.
Creery has always considered herself a Democrat, though after this election she said she is absolutely leaving the party. “Democrats and Republicans are the same when it comes to campaign finance,” said Creery. “When money is involved, there is going to be the same result no matter which side you’re on.” As far as voting for Clinton, Creery was even more unsatisfied. “If you have to let go of all your values to vote for someone, you’re not living in a democracy.”
Nancy Towler is an administrative assistant at a college near Schenectady, New York, who has come to Philadelphia in hopes that something good will come from the convention. “Realistically, I’m hoping for a full blown revolution — all the corruption has gone too far,” said Towler. In light of this election, Towler said she is absolutely leaving the Democratic Party after being a registered Democrat for 38 years. In terms of who she will vote for in November she is undecided. As for voting for Clinton: “Hell no.”