Your favorite anti-establishment hero won’t call off his dogs.
I arrived with one of my student reporter colleagues to our first presidential rally at East Los Angeles College on May 5. After a drive in the usual L.A. traffic, I found myself in the realm of professional trail-birds and journalists who join a campaign trail and ride it through to the November election. We approached the media check-in desk and handed them our press passes. The people checking us in saw my student media badge and checked that we were on the list.
Hillary supporters were lined up around the block. I was glad we didn’t have to wait in that line. My colleague Cory Jaynes and I went in and snagged a spot with a good vantage point to cover the former Secretary of State. There were reporters from CNN, ABC, MSNBC, Fox, Univision, local station KTLA, and so many more. I was in with the big kids. It was easy to stay professional on the outside, but inside I was screaming. Not only was I reporting on a campaign trail, but I was also getting to see Hillary Clinton speak.
She was eloquent, clear, collected, and inspiring. The crowd inside loved her and so did the media. Her supporters were loud and enthusiastic, hardly able to keep quiet. There were a couple of Berners who were tossed out, but neither Clinton or her supporters acted with aggression. She even said, “We don’t need to shout at each other; that’s the other side. So let’s talk instead of shouting.” She wanted to bridge the divide between Berners and her own supporters. It was obvious that she wanted to unite the party.
But a storm was brewing . Reporters kept going outside and when they returned, many had come to the same conclusion: the Berners were scary.
After the rally ended, my colleague and I went outside and saw the protesters. They weren’t scary, they were horrifying.
While observing them, it became clear how aggressive these people were. They were cussing at people, calling women whores, and telling people to kill themselves. They were shouting in children's faces, blowing sirens in their ears, and making them cry.
This is where I saw the key difference. Despite the clean, fatherly image of Bernie Sanders, his supporters are vile, villainous, and downright hateful.
I know not all Berners are like that, but I can now honestly say that the ones I saw, are. Nowhere have we — and I mean the media — seen Clinton supporters act like this. To frighten a child is wrong, inhumane, and malicious.
Activist Nik Royal who attended the rally tweeted this to our journalism professor and adviser Toni Albertson:
Claims that Clinton supporters are just as bad as Sanders supporters have yet to be verified. I have seen nothing, not a single shred of evidence, that Clinton supporters are that aggressive. We keep hearing how great Sanders is, how wonderful he will be in office, but if this is true, why does he allow his supporters to behave like this? Why has he not asked that they behave with some civility? And why does he put out rhetoric that fuels this fire?
I get that this is a protest, but scaring children and disabled people? Calling people names? Where is the kind Bernie Sanders who made friends with a bird? How is he protecting them from the establishment?
Bernie supporters like to call Hillary a liar. What about Bernie’s lies? It has been documented by every major media outlet and data expert that it is mathematically impossible for Sanders to win the nomination. So why does he continue to make his supporters believe otherwise? It is stirring up hatred and blame and destroying the most important goal: to defeat Trump.
It seems — and I speak only as a student reporter and millennial — that the facade tBerners put up only creates chaos. When you see these supporters filled with hate verbally attacking the opposition, most of whom walked on with smiles, the only thing left to think is that this is not going to stop.
In 2008, as a determined young gay man, I marched after the passing of Prop. 8 and I saw people upset and fueled by passion. But what I didn’t see in all of my protests was frightened children and blatant hatred.
So where will you stand this November? I know where I stand, and it is not with hate.