Nuisance: Wed 7/27: #DNCGateBreach: The full story (from two points of view)

First, mine

It is late Wednesday, the third Day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and President Barack Obama is about to speak at the Wells Fargo Center, closing out the day’s official, well polished, and highly scripted activities. He honestly may already be speaking. I have long since lost track of time, currently in my third consecutive hour of live streaming for Citizens’ Media TV; not to mention having already streamed 7-1/2 hours earlier in the day.

Fellow Bernie Sanders delegate, Michelle McFadden-DiNicola, and I are standing in the middle of the intersection at Broad and Pattison in South Philadelphia, which sits between the Wells Fargo Center and FDR Park. We are surrounded by thousands of Bernie Sanders supporters, miles of serious, industrial-strength security gates, and many hundreds of police officers, on foot, on bicycle, and on horseback. There are lines of officers both in and outside of the protester area, since keeping Bernie Sanders supporters at least a half mile away from the DNC is a top priority.

Thirty minutes previous, Michelle and I were sitting in the grass at FDR Park with our supporters, capping off what, for us, was the most meaningful event of the week. Bernie Sanders delegates and their supporters have been struggling to communicate all week long, and we finally did something about it.

We are standing at a corner of the security gate, where, were it not dark, we could see it stretch south the entire length down Broad Street, until it reaches Interstate 95 at the far end of the block (because the interstate is so close, a number of its exits are shut down). Broad Street is the longest street in Philadelphia, and the longest straight “urban” street in the world, and this is one of its southern most blocks. Going east, in the distance, the gate extends to the other side of the street, makes a 90° turn left (north), lining the other side of Broad Street for two more blocks. So north of and at Pattison, protesters can be on Broad Street itself. South of Pattison, only officially sanctioned security, governmental, and state-delegation buses can be on it.

Michelle tells me how she has decided to return to the convention the next and final day, despite leaving in last night’s walkout, because it’s what our supporters want us to do. They “did some amazing things to get here. They made me feel a little bit shamed for wanting to go [home]. I don’t know what I’ll be doing, but I’m staying.”

A man with a white cloth facemask hanging under his chin notes the lack of tension. “I see a bunch of armed officers doing their job… They’re out there to look intimidating to everybody else, [but not to us].”

What about the security gates?

I do think [they are] a bit draconian. It’s still a five/ten minute walk to the actual building, so I do think it’s a bit too far… But for where it is, the officers are doing a good job. Everyone here protesting is doing a good job. It’s a peaceful event. We’re speaking our minds. Everything is…

As he says, “It’s a peaceful event,” his words gradually slow, and his attention drifts behind him. A helicopter becomes noticeably louder, and the energy of the entire crowd gravitates to a single point. Distant screams and struggles are heard. On the opposite side of the gate, where for hours there were calm lines of police standing straight on the double yellow lines, there is now commotion.

Me: “Whoa! Oh my gosh. They broke open the gate.”

Halfway down the east west portion of the gate, two sections swing in towards the crowd, its metal flickering in the helicopter’s spotlight. It is being pushed in by masses of police.

(Note the roses in the foreground.)


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Michelle joins many others who go north on Broad Street to escape the potential danger. The next day she tells me that she caught a cab back to her friend’s house where she is staying.

I hear people screaming, not not in pain or fear, but exhilaration.

Within one minute, much of the east-west portion of the gate is lined with about 100 police officers. They are creating a space between the gate and the protesters, in order to fix the break.

To get a better view, I ask a woman standing on top of one of the many concrete security barriers (like those that divide highways) to help me up. As soon as she grabs my hand, I realize how precarious this is. How careful we need to be so she doesn’t fall. When I reach the top, I tell her, “I’m glad I didn’t kill you.”

Ten feet away from me, I see Billy Taylor standing even higher, by himself, on a metal utility box.


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The police start yelling.

“Move!”

“Go go go!”

In another 30 seconds, a line of approximately 70 bicycle cops fill in between the gate and the officers on foot. At the same time, many hundreds more officers, perhaps up to 1,000, stream in from the Wells Fargo Center. It is dark and difficult to see, but at the same time it is clear that what was originally about 150 officers standing behind the gate on Pattison Avenue, on the opposite from of the protesters, is now approaching 500. They are continually shifting positions.

The crowd begins chanting, “We are non-violent! We are non-violent!” There is also a steady drumbeat coming from somewhere in the crowd. The chant soon becomes, “Sit down! Sit down!”

Over the next minute, the standing officers move behind those on bicycles, and after loud “Let’s step forward! Step forward!”, those on bicycles take a large step towards the crowd, creating a bigger space between the protesters and the broken fence.

Twenty minutes later, all of the police standing between the gate and the protesters, including the helicopter, are gone. Although tensions remain through to the end of the DNC the next night, this incident is over. Aside from the initial moments of the breach, there are no noticeable conflicts between officers and protesters.

The truth

Now with the situation settled, my focus turns to getting the truth. A direct confrontation with police occurring right next to Bernie Sanders supporters, regardless who caused it, will likely be blamed on them. While nothing can be done to stop the lies and misleading coverage, what we can do–the very reason Citizens’ Media TV was created–is to make sure the entire truth is revealed and shared as widely as possible. So those who do want to know the truth–who are “woke” and brave enough to question the narrative, can easily find it.

I spend the next two hours investigating what happened, and get corroboration from six witnesses from various perspectives. With little exception, the consensus is that the police handled this intense situation as best as can be expected; they were “strong but reasonable.” All week long, both before, during, and after this incident, the Philadelphia police are spoken of in almost exclusively positive terms by Bernie Sanders supporters.

After the DNC is over, I comb through many additional sources of coverage, and confirm almost everything I discovered was correct. But the most important source of all, which I will discover in about one hour, is a video filmed by the son of a fellow Citizens’ Media TV correspondent.

Sam Jr.: A truly first-hand perspective.

I walk north on Broad Street and catch a taxi back to my hotel. The driver misunderstands the hotel name, drives me to the wrong one, and then tries to charge me a lot extra for the extra distance caused by the mistake. I give him the benefit of the doubt and a few dollars extra. Maybe I wasn’t clear or loud enough.

Anyway! At what time I can only guess is significantly after midnight–I exit the elevator to my hotel floor. As I approach my room, I pull the key card out of my wallet. Before reaching my door, I receive a phone call from Sam Calhoun. He tells me his son, Sam Jr., is currently sitting in a Philadelphia police station–voluntarily!–giving a statement and providing the footage that he captured of the perpetrators who breached the gate.

After exiting the station, he uploads the footage to YouTube and sends me the link.

It is extraordinary.

It also turns out to be Citizens’ Media TV’s first genuine exclusive. Unless the perpetrators themselves release their own footage, there is nothing that captures the incident like it. Not only does it show the entire breach, it also captures the five minutes leading up to it, showing the perpetrators preparing and rehearsing. It is also not a choppy and square livestream, but a high-quality video.

The next morning, Sam and his son, along with a friend who wishes to remain anonymous, come to my hotel room and we thoroughly discuss his experience. It ends with Sam narrating the raw footage.

Sam Jr. is a 22-year-old from Baltimore, currently attending community college and working in home-improvement. Before this election, his only involvement in politics was to volunteer as the Democratic Chief Judge in a polling place in both 2012 and 2016 (there is also a Republican). A Chief Judge “oversees a polling place to make sure that everything is kosher. [That] we’re not handing out an excessive amount of provisional ballots, we’re not doing wrong by the people.” He says he did not feel any pressure to do anything questionable in Hillary Clinton’s favor.

How did he discover Bernie Sanders? Earlier this year, from his father. He laughs. “Normally the younger generation is the one who talks about the older generation [being] out of touch.”

After watching the delegates speak at FDR Park, he and his friend participate in the candlelight vigil/funeral March for the DNC (this is the third and final time that this March occurs during the week). Before Michelle and I arrive at the same spot, the life-size coffin is thrown over the fence, which the police are obviously prepared for. With 150 cops standing between twenty and 100 feet away, only a single officer with a bomb sniffing dog approaches it, and it is soon carried away. Michelle I did not witness any of the March or the coffin being thrown over.

“Something’s wrong. I can feel it in my gut.”

Sam’s friend:

It was the first thing, as soon as we walked over to where all of the rest of the protesters were. I looked at him [Sam Jr.] as soon as we got there… And I said, ‘Something’s wrong. I can feel it in my gut. Something’s going to happen.’ [As] soon as we walk over, the first thing we noticed is a guy [dressed fully in black] digging in his bag…grabbing out a full gas mask.

Sam Jr.:

This was just an intimidating presence that you could feel in your gut. You could tell something was going to happen… When we were at the main stage with Billy [Taylor of Philly.FYI, who led the procession and constructed the coffin], there was somebody who was trying to rile the crowd up. Talking about how Bernie Sanders was assaulted… They did a “mic check” [style call-and-response] and tried to get the whole crowd to look on their phones [to confirm the assault]. Billy just shut them down and said, ‘That’s not true’ after looking on the guy’s phone. And everybody clapped, saying, ‘Right on Billy, don’t let the [rumors] spread.’

Sam’s friend:

We walked in later on, so they were [already] there. But what we assume though, is that [at least some of them] were hidden within the crowd of protesters, and walked with us from FDR Park.

In Sam’s video it is clear that there are approximately five people dressed in black (although his friend’s estimate is, “lowball, at least a dozen.”), but many others are working with them. This includes a woman chanting into a megaphone, “We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!” She’s wearing a red hat and skirt-dress with a halter top, and has shoulder length brown hair.


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The apparent leader of the group is a thin male in his mid-30s, wearing a grey tank top, with the sleeve holes going halfway down his midsection. He has buzzed hair and a round bald spot at the top of his head. He is walking back-and-forth, gesturing and seemingly reviewing and rehearsing what is about to happen. One of the men dressed in black awkwardly dances to the chant.


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Billy Taylor is seen standing on the electrical “stump” in the background, close to the gate.

The leader goes away, and in a couple of minutes (at the 4:15 mark) returns, gesturing “come” with the pointer and middle finger of his right hand, his thumb sticking out to the side, the remaining two fingers loosely folded to his hand. A steady rimshot begins. The five in black, and a man in a white t-shirt huddle together.


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Within 10 seconds, they all walk briskly to the gate.

At least a dozen others join them, two holding professional video cameras, both held high and pointing down, one attached to the top of a stick. All of these people start moving at exactly the same time, and towards exactly the same point. As soon as they start moving, the rimshot and megaphone-chants end.


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Sam’s friend holds his position, but Sam follows closely behind with the camera. A loud snap is heard, which I can only guess is not the chain being cut.

Chants, seemingly from others, are heard. “Who streets!? Our streets!”

“Keep it peaceful!”

Sam Jr. starts chanting, “Keep the peace! Keep the peace!”

The perpetrators run through the crowd, directly to the planned spot on the gate. Water balloons are thrown over the gate as a distraction. They use large, rusty, red-handled bolt cutters to cut the thin chain connecting two portions of the fence together, and push them out towards the line of police officers standing on Pattison Avenue. The bolt cutters are left on the ground.

Aside: The chain


full-res original chain, from this article

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From the 37 minute mark in my video, a man who witnessed it firsthand says that the original

was a small chain that fit through the mesh [of the gate itself]… These are a lot bigger now. You’re not going to get bolt cutters around those.

Continuing

The gates silently swing out towards the police.

Four of the men dressed in black run through the gate, along with at least two of their accomplices, the man with in white T-shirt and the woman with the megaphone. The woman goes late and is abruptly tackled.

From this tweet.


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The peaceful protesters who are now in the middle are trying to escape backwards.

“They opened the gate!”

“They just broke in!”

“They broke it!”

The police response is remarkably fast. The police push the gate closed, continue pushing it back into the protester area, and then immediately close it again. As evidenced by this video:

No officers come through the gate. Those unfortunate to be standing directly in the arc of the gate, are naturally resisting so they aren’t hit by it. A poor fellow now finds himself standing in the middle of what is now gaping hole, and is about to be roughly pushed by one of the first officers. I am guessing that he is choosing that capturing the moment with his phone is a higher priority than his safety.

The following video shows some admittedly rough treatment by some of the first officers, against supporters standing at the gate (and as likely witnessed by Brian):


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There are also reports, with video to confirm (from this tweet), that phones are deliberately knocked out of peoples’ hands. Also, it is known that the audio wire for TYT Politics was pulled.

Others who were with the perpetrators are now pretending to be among the original peaceful crowd. This includes a man filming the group, who pushes back against the gate on the viewer’s right. When facing the police, he puts his other hand, the one not holding the camera, up in peace or surrender. Also, the leader himself pumps his fists in the air to cheer, aggressively pushes the gate closed, then blends in with the crowd and put his hands up, pretending to not be involved. In fact, you can just make him out in the very first picture of the open gate in this article, under the “my version” section above. Both men are seen in this video:

From this tweet.

In order:


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Many are seen walking away, escaping the danger, but more are walking towards it, filming with their phones.

A man in his late 30s, wearing a light blue Bernie t-shirt, walks away from the action, with hands sticking animatedly in the air. He seems sincere, trying to make it overly obvious that he is not involved.


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One of the men in black is taken away by a police officer, back through the protester crowd. Another, who I believe is a woman, walks right through the line of cops, down and out of frame, seemingly getting away.


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Sam Jr., still with a steady hand on the camera, briefly pulls away, and once again chants, “Keep the peace! Keep the peace!”

He walks back and starts forcing people right next to the cops to give them some space. “Everybody get back!”


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The first man he pushes says, “The criminals are in there!”

“OK, sorry man. But back it up.”

He pushes another. “Back it up! Back it up!”

The next person Sam pushes away is a Fox News reporter.

“Sir, back it up! Back it up! Back!”

The reporter (in the video in this article) confirms that Bernie supporters did not do this, rather provocateurs. As Sam pushes him–guides him–he is so engrossed in his phone and microphone, he does not respond as he is moved away.

The officers closest to the protesters are holding billy clubs diagonally across their midsections.


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Sam says to the crowd, “Keep some distance! Keep some distance!”

The crowd briefly chants, “The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!”

The most consistent chant during this time becomes: “We are non-violent! We are non-violent!”

Bicycle cops are are now forming a line behind those on foot, and a few minutes later those on foot go behind the bicycles.


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“Behind the bikes!”

“Yo! Yo! Get behind the bikes!”


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Someone screams, “The criminals are in there! Go get them!!”

A brief chant of, “Election fraud! Election fraud!”

As the police approach, a man in his early 30s places a flag on the ground and attempts to burn it. It is taken by police. He is also seen participating in a separate flag burning. He has a short brown hair, a close shaven and thin beard going under his chin, but no mustache. He is white or perhaps Hispanic, muscular, and is wearing a shirt that says “Black Guns Matter”, written in the same style as Black Lives Matter. He is holding a sign on a yardstick that says on the top half, in yellow-on-black, “America was never great!”, and on the bottom in white-on-red, “We need to OVERTHROW the system!”.

The man is moving erratically, almost like a boxer. Each movement brings him closer to the officers facing him. He then jumps back to his original position, perhaps three feet away, and repeats the process. At one point he suddenly tenses, juts his chest forward, elbows out and back, and tenses and extends his fingers, all as if threatening to attack. He is yelling and violently bobbing his head, gesturing “come on!” with fingers, pointing to his own face, daring them to strike.

The officers remain calm and do not react.


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Later in the video (at around the 12 minute mark) the same man is seen in the background, away from the police, still dancing and bobbing in the same jerky fashion, to no one, and with no apparent music or chants accompanying him.


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The crowd chants: “Sit! Sit! Sit!”

A Native-American woman in a yellow headscarf says, “Sit! They are not the problem! The DNC is the problem! Show them respect! Sit! Sit down or get out! Sit down or get out!” She takes off the scarf before continuing.

Many sit, some with their hands clasped on the top their heads as if surrendering.

And now the police are gone.

Sam approaches an officer who seems to be in charge, unknowingly choosing the Philadelphia Chief of Police. This is the same person that attended multiple meetings between Philly.FYI and the Philadelphia city government, in which I participated.

“People did not start storming the gates, sir. I caught it on tape and I’ve been watching the whole thing.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes sir.”

“Let’s see what you’ve got.”

After watching the video, Sam and his friend are invited down to the station to make a statement and submit the video as evidence.

Back in my hotel room on Thursday morning, I joke with Sam Sr., how he must be “so proud that my boy is running right into the middle of the most dangerous thing of the entire convention.”

Sam Sr. says that he did the exact same thing the night before. Here is the video he is referring to, called “Bringing the peace”. He suggests reading the description first for context.

Finally, here is a preview we recorded in anticipation of releasing the above raw video:

Note: About half of the people in my own investigation stated that water balloons were thrown over the gate as a distraction, I could find no video evidence to corroborate it.

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Nuisance: Thurs 7/28: Nevada’s Roberta Lange confronted at DNC, in chaotic and private state delegation meeting.

A private meeting with the Nevada delegation (I was a New Jersey delegate). A man at the microphone protests Roberta Lange’s and the Democratic Party’s behavior at the Nevada State Democratic Convention. He is confronted, the microphone is removed, and he ends up lying on the floor, right in front of the stage for minutes. Allegedly assaulted.

Another man protests the same by handcuffing himself to a chair.Both are outraged by the treatment at the Nevada State Democratic Convention, and especially the blatant smears of violence and vandalism used as an effort to cover it up.

Lange shouts them both down.

Here is a followup livestream by Dan Rolle, the person who handcuffed himself.