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Nuisance: Becoming a delegate and surrogate candidate for Bernie Sanders: Impossible deadlines, incredible strangers, critical mistakes, and intimidation and sabotage.

I applied to be a pledged delegate for Bernie Sanders on the New Jersey Democratic website. A few months later the Bernie Sanders campaign contacted me by email and said that I am among the pool of applicants that they will be choosing delegates from. I was told to go to a mandatory meeting at the campaign office in Sayerville, New Jersey. At that meeting I was given an envelope filled with petitions both to become a delegate, and for Bernie Sanders himself to get onto the ballot.

I didn’t realize until later that, at this point, no one is selected “as a delegate”, rather they are selected to be a delegate candidate. After the New Jersey primary, among the pool of all candidates–and depending on the number of votes Bernie Sanders received in each delegate district–the campaign chose their delegates. I was a super-volunteer for the campaign, so I was placed higher on the list. New Jersey delegates in each “delegate district” are called a “slate”, which simply means a group of people. In my district they were five delegates and one alternate on our slate.

Legislative districts are different than delegate districts are different then congressional districts. As I understand it, delegate districts are direct subsets of legislative districts, but congressional districts are only very roughly the same; there is significant overlap between them. This is almost purposefully confusing, as is much in our democracy.

My delegate slate had about three weeks to collect signatures, and if I remember the numbers correctly, there were 100 signatures required for Bernie Sanders (4,000 for the entire state), and 100 signatures for our delegate slate. We collected well over 1,000 signatures for both, and–at least this was true the week before the signatures were handed in–I collected more than any other delegate candidate in the state of New Jersey, which was over a hundred people.

(The state of New York required 5,000 signatures in order for Bernie Sanders to get onto the primary about ballot. They handed in 85,000. This trend was true around the country; The number of signatures handed in in many states was an order of magnitude greater than required.)

We held many events during these three weeks, each posted on both Facebook and on berniesanders.com; at restaurants, grocery stores, and coffee shops. Some venues were more friendly than others. I posted this on Facebook:

Collecting signatures for Bernie Sanders at Wegman’s in Cherry Hill. Kicked out by hostile yet calm spoken manager Carl Curtiss, for solicitation and trespassing on private property. We didn’t approach anyone, and about 30 minutes previous, we removed all sinage immediately, as requested.

His reason is that there is an announcement of the event on map.berniesanders.com, which he discovered, printed, and showed us. Mr. Curtiss threatened to call police before having a chance to gather our things. I also spent $29 on food.

It is private property so they can do what they like [is that true?], but they are selective with how they enforce their policy. There was a bible study at another table when we started, and I understand there are meetings there often.

Thank goodness Kai was there. A voice of reason, having political experience with this kind of resistance.

(If I knew what I know now, I would have ripped out my phone and interviewed him about it live. It’s still unclear what the laws are.)

The signatures were due on Monday, but the campaign wanted them handed in on the Wednesday before hand, March 29. I drove them over to my fellow delegate candidate, Kristin’s house, and she actually handed them in for me in the Sayreville campaign office. She sent me this picture as confirmation:

She said “The birdie has landed.” See the bird? Left to right: Atticus Garden, David Zachary, and Kevin Keefe.

Becoming a surrogate, and impossible deadlines.

As I arrived home from giving the completed petitions to Kristin, as I pulled into the parking spot in front of my house, I got a phone call from the Bernie Sanders campaign, asking if I wanted to run for office, as a “surrogate” with Bernie Sanders on the ballot.

Um. Yes.

This would be in addition to running as a delegate, so I would be on the ballot twice. I now had to collect signatures to get myself on the ballot, with the same deadline: Monday, April 3, at 4 PM sharp. Four-and-a-half days.

After learning about the surrogacy and getting my head around the reality of spending the next few months of my life running a campaign–whatever that means–I created a three hour event on Thursday, and a six hour event on Friday. Friday’s event was at The Jughandle Inn in Cinnaminson New Jersey, five minutes from my house, right near my boys’ elementary school. They were (I was!) collecting signatures for Bernie Sanders at the same restaurant the week before.

Sabotage part one

They kicked me out within 30 minutes. The complaint was that I was soliciting to their customers. I wasn’t. I wasn’t walking around the restaurant asking for people to sign my petition. I was only there for those who chose to approach me, because they already knew about my event. I did initially have a sign up at my table, so people walking in would know who I was, but took it down at the suggestion of soliciting.

So I went to Starbucks in Morristown. Starbucks had been friendly with us, leaving us alone because they were getting some business out of it. Someone went into the restaurant (I was sitting outside) and complained to the manager that she was insulted by my presence. I never saw the person. So I was kicked out of there as well. This was incredibly stressful, and also misled those who RSVPed to my original event.

I went to a third place, and after nine total hours of events over two days, I reached a total of 24 signatures. I needed 300 by the end of the weekend. (Honestly, I “needed” 100, but as I understood it, they’re aggressive with disqualifying signatures, not to mention people say that they are Democrats but are improperly registered, or whatever it is, so it is unwise to go in with anything near the actually required amount.)

Update after speaking with an employee of the Burlington County Clerk’s office.

On September 9, 2016, I interviewed an employee of the Burlington County Clerk’s office. According to this person, I ended up with 193 signatures considered valid. More than I thought I handed in. It turns out that no one decided to challenge our petition, so no signatures were disqualified (“They were taken at face value”). The only thing the clerk’s office itself checks for, is that signatures are not missing information, such as leaving the town name blank, and that there are no duplicate signatures. Basically, since I had so many more than required, they didn’t even bother.

Incredible friends and strangers, and a critical mistake by the Bernie Sanders campaign

It turned out to be one of the craziest weekends of my life, and there is no way that I could’ve done it without the assistance of many friends and strangers, let alone those who traveled all around the largest geographic county in the state, just to sign a piece of paper.

Someone I never met before called me on Saturday afternoon, and collected signatures on my behalf for 12 straight hours on Sunday. Two friends I met on my trip to South Carolina, Jessica and Cody, knocked on doors in my hometown for hours, with the support of the campaign, who gave us access to a “walk list” of Democrats in the area, using NGP-VAN’s MiniVAN phone app (the same one we used in South Carolina).

Diane, a regular at my weekly phonebanking parties, organized multiple petition signing events for me. Craig, a professional photographer and videographer, followed me around for weeks, taking pictures and making videos of me, for use as however I saw fit. His picture is the one that made it into the paper. Barry Brendel from John Wisniewski’s staff was there throughout my entire campaign, with terse, blunt, and perfect support and guidance. And, finally, my new campaign partner and running mate, Mike Miller (who found out about his candidacy a couple weeks before I did), called on his friends and in some favors to help push me over the edge.

On Monday afternoon, a few hours before the deadline, Mike and I met and handed in our petitions together. I reached a total of 180 signatures, and it ended up being enough. I honestly would have been only mildly surprised to not reach the official threshold of 100 “valid” signatures.

One of only forty in the country

One of the coolest benefits of this experience, was that, along with Mike, I was one of only around 50 candidates in the country to be personally endorsed by Bernie Sanders. Did he think I was the best person for the job? No. Did he know my name? I doubt it. But I was chosen from among the pool of super-volunteers, and it is a bragging right I will take to my grave.

Due to the unique requirements of the state of New Jersey, in order to earn decent spot on the ballot, it is required that presidential and local candidates run together. These endorsements are what are needed for the local and presidential candidates to be “in the same bracket”, meaning column, on the ballot.

I received my endorsement letter in a manila envelope on Sunday afternoon, from a campaign volunteer, at a Dunkin Donuts two miles from my house. We spent no more than three minutes together. He got my signature to endorse Bernie Sanders,

gave me the envelope containing my endorsement, went to the restroom, and left. Before starting my car, I took a picture of the letter and posted it on Facebook.

When I arrived home and showed the letter to my wife, she noticed that my position was listed as freeholder, but I was running for surrogate. It was required to hand this endorsement letter in with my petition, and a mistake like this would likely cost both my candidacy and Bernie Sanders’ slot on the ballot. So a corrected letter needed to be written up and signed by Bernie Sanders (who I believe was campaigning in Colorado), and it needed to be delivered to the Burlington County Board of Elections by 4 PM sharp the next day. I called the campaign and was told it would be taken care of. I trusted that it was, but couldn’t truly know until later.

Four days later, Friday, April 7: Intimidation disguised as concern

On Friday that same week, I received a phone call from a young member of my county’s Democratic Committee. She said that there was a Committee meeting that same night, and they wanted to know if I was seriously campaigning–if I was really trying to win this position. Although she personally likes Bernie Sanders and a Bernie-supporting congressional candidate by the name of Jim Keady, the committee itself has endorsed Hillary Clinton and congressional candidate Fred LaVergne. She proceeded to tell me–repeatedly–just how much of a Bernie supporter she is, and that she also personally supports (and “just like”s) the county’s current Surrogate candidate, Sander Friedman.

She warned me that if I did actually try to run a real campaign, if I really did try to win, “It would be very bad”. The Democratic Party “would have to spend money to campaign against [me], and it’s money that would be better served for use against the Republican in the general.” They also “would have to send people” to explicitly vote against me (and my partner Mike), in order to boost their own candidates. The point being that these “anti-Jeff” voters would hurt both Jim Keady and Bernie Sanders chances at the nomination. Because, “oh, well if we’re already here, we might as well also vote against Bernie and Keady.”

She expressed frustration and exasperation at the Sanders campaign, how the “situation was not properly explained” to me, and that no Berniecrat “in entire state of New Jersey” is actually trying to win. The campaign “really should have made it clear” that my only purpose is to give Bernie a decent spot on the ballot.

She ended by saying that she would be happy to try and help me get some other local position in the future.

This person was trying their hardest to come across as a kind and concerned person that just wanted to make me aware of the situation. I suspect it’s not completely true, but that is how I treated her and responded to her: with respect and thanks for helping me understand. My overall response was, “This is the first I’m hearing about it [which was true], and it’s a lot to think about. I need some time to get my mind around it all”.

Four days after that, Monday, April 11: Sabotage

On Monday, I received a letter in a Federal Express envelope:

It was written the day after the intimidating phone call.

Despite repeated phone calls and emails, we were never told of the details of this challenge, what we needed to do in order to respond, or even where or when the hearing was to take place.

The only thing we could glean from the letter was that it implied that the endorsement letter was somehow invalid, or perhaps never even reached the Board of Elections in time? Barry confirmed that same afternoon that a corrected endorsement letter, signed this time by Jeff Weaver, was indeed received in time.

Notification of the decision came two days later, in another Federal Express envelope:

Included in that letter was a copy of my endorsement of Bernie Sanders (as signed a Dunkin’ Donuts) and a copy of the corrected endorsement letter of me:

Update after speaking with Burlington County Clerk’s office

According to the employee, no hearing was necessary. The Clerk’s Office consulted their lawyers in the county Solicitor’s Office (the clerks themselves are not lawyers), and immediately issued their decision.

I submitted an OPRA (Open Public Records Act, New Jersey’s version of FOIA) on September 9, 2016, for the challenge itself, and will post it here if and when I receive it.

Update 9/20


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The same day: An intimidating statement by New Jersey Bernie Sanders superdelegate John Wisniewski

From the article Bracketing 101: Why Freeholder Candidates are Important to Bernie Sanders (the same article as linked above, explaining the uniqueness of the ballot in New Jersey):

According to [NJ Assemblyman and Bernie Sanders Superdelegate] Wisniewski, the candidates running under Sanders are doing so by and large as a way to support the Senator and not in an effort to actually be elected.”

“I can’t speak for every individual who has filed to run but I think that in almost every circumstance they understand that the purpose of their candidacy is not to get elected freeholder or surrogate or whatever. Their purpose is to provide Bernie with a favorable ballot position,” Wisniewski said. “I would venture that it is highly likely that almost all of them will spend no money, have no literature and have no campaign.

Our own Bernie Sanders leader in New Jersey was strongly suggesting that I should not try to win. Assemblyman Wisniewski is clearly in a difficult position, endorsing both Bernie Sanders and establishment candidate Donald Norcross. I asked him about this during the Democratic National Convention. I don’t remember his exact response, but I left feeling listened to and less intimidated.

That Friday: Bernie’s spot on the ballot is decided by a bingo shaker.

I return to the Board of Elections, and am guided to a small room only a few feet away from the County Clerk’s office. There are two rows of eight chairs, filled with people. I am by far the youngest.

At the front is a folding table, on top of which is a bingo-like shaker. It is a wood cylinder on its side, elegantly made, which can be freely turned once the lock-peg is removed.

According to the Clerk’s office employee, the box was “just there when I started”, and that it was originally used as a jury selection box. This block, with numbers each having a hole below it, sits underneath the cylinder when in storage.


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At the beginning of the ceremony, Clerk Timothy Tyler comes in, rolls up his sleeves (in a ‘nothing up my sleeve’ gesture, according to the clerk’s office employee) and presents three, roughly, 1/2″x3″ slips of paper, saying “Hillary Clinton”, “Delran Democratic Reform Team” (a column in which the only candidate is a freeholder), and “Bernie Sanders”. He rolls each tightly and places them into a clear and soft plastic pharmaceutical capsule, about one inch in length. (The clerk’s office employee tells me that under some circumstances they use veterinary capsules which are much larger.)

The capsules are placed in the cylinder, the latch closed, and it is turned for a few moments. One capsule is taken out at a time. Hillary Clinton is take out first, so she gets the first (leftmost) column on the ballot, Delran is given the second, and Bernie Sanders the third.


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Before hand, we are told by the campaign:

Be on time. If you are a minute late, I guarantee they’ll draw immediately.

We are also given a list of questions and issues that need to be answered at each district’s ballot-slot drawing (my answers are in italic):

What office was drawn first for ballot position (i.e. freeholder or president)?
What position were our freeholder given (i.e. Column A, Line 1)?
If freeholders were drawn first, were our freeholders in the same drawing as the party organization’s freeholders (was a capsule with the names of our freeholders placed in the same box as a capsule with the names of freeholders aligned with the party/Hillary Clinton)?

The only thing being decided in this meeting is the order of the columns. Within each column, it has already been decided and printed out: the president is on top, followed in order by all delegates, the alternate delegate, surrogate, and then freeholder.

New Jersey statute 19:14-10 dictates where each position is listed within a ballot column.

What position was Bernie Sanders given (i.e. Column A, Line 1)?
If president was drawn first, was Bernie Sanders in the same drawing as Hillary (was a capsule with the name Bernie Sanders placed in the same box as a capsule with the name Hillary Clinton)?

They were in the same drawing.

Were our freeholders placed on the same line, column, or row as Bernie Sanders (did the county clerk ignore bracketing)?

They were placed in the same line. The county did not ignore bracketing.

If Bernie Sanders and/or our freeholders were placed in any position other than one of the first two columns or first two rows, please notify us immediately.

I did, and was told the campaign would file an appeal on Monday morning. But on primary day, on June 7, Bernie Sanders was still in the third column.

Nuisance: The struggle to communicate between Bernie Sanders protesters and supporters, and their DNC delegates right across the street.

FDR Park is directly across the street from the Wells Fargo Center. Despite being so close, there are many layers of barriers, not to mention the walls of the Wells Fargo Center itself. Bernie Sanders supporters feel like their delegates are not hearing any other cries, and they are correct. The only people at the DNC that care about what they are saying, what they are feeling, are the Bernie delegates. But there is no way for them to hear or see any of it, and no way for the delegates to express their gratitude.

While I and other delegates livestreamed and felt listened to and appreciated by people around the country, those that mattered the most, those that traveled across the country to be there for us, were unreachable, despite being “right across the street.” It was hard to even know that they were there.

Had I thought about it, I would have told the staff of Philly.FYI (of which I am a founding member, and worked with full-time up through the week before the convention) and its main stage production crew to continually announce that delegates were live streaming on Citizens’ Media TV and elsewhere.

My biggest regret of the week

I was also told afterwards, in a conversation with supporter and journalist John Laurits, that the FDR Park main stage crew was indeed broadcasting DNC coverage on the jumbotrons, but they were showing mainstream media channels, which is the antithesis of what was wanted and needed. A simple phone call from me to the Philly.FYI crew could have come solved this problem in minutes. Instead of broadcasting mainstream media, they could have replaced it with livestreams from the delegates. I couldn’t have known, but it is my biggest regret of the week. It would’ve made a big difference, and I had the power to easily make it happen.

A very cool plan that never comes to pass

On Monday night in a text, Eric is the one that alerted me that supporters would be cheering at the gate as delegates exited their hotel shuttle buses to enter the convention. It’s what resulted in this morning’s moving encounter with Michelle, which is my favorite moment of the convention.

With assistance from my Citizens’ Media TV partner Adryenn Ashley, Eric and I planned a simultaneous two way live stream, between supporters at the FDR Park main stage and delegates across the street. In addition to just hearing each other for the first time, the goal was also to address the many growing rumors and exaggerated fears making their way across the street.

The FDR Park main stage production crew installed the Zoom application on their laptop, and confirmed that they could broadcast everything to the jumbotrons, and that they would have a video camera ready to stream supporters in the audience Back to us. I did a brief test broadcast, and they successfully put it on the jumbotrons.

(Adryenn and I have already used this app, to livestream multiple people at the same time via Facebook Live, once working, once failing (article coming…). The application worked, but the connection to Facebook Live failed. It turns out that Facebook is now adding this feature directly to Facebook Live over the next few months.)

It was planned for this double livestream to immediately follow the official end of the roll call vote on late Tuesday afternoon. Eric would be the emcee on the supporter side, and I would be on the Wells Fargo side. We still needed to do a full technical rehearsal, which we never ended up doing, but we we’re otherwise ready to go.

Throughout the day, I scheduled delegates to join me after the end of roll call, just outside of the building, but still within the security perimeter. Since the walkout occurred at exactly this time, this idea never came to pass. (It is also the reason I did not get to follow up on this.)

Because the technical rehearsal never happened, and because the overall event didn’t happen, when Eric and I encountered each other that night, he was emotional and apologetic. But it turns out that something even better happened the next day.

The reason

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, Eric and all of our supporters didn’t just make it easier to endure and fight the fight, they were the reason that we endured. They were the reason that we were fighting. Despite all of the layers of security between us, in our own ways, we were all fighting together.

Nuisance: Wed 7/27: Finally! Bernie Sanders delegates meet their supporters at FDR Park. [Timestamped highlights]

(This is part one. Part two: Kerith and I sit in the grass and talk with our supporters.)

All week long, Bernie Sanders supporters in FDR Park have been struggling to communicate with their delegates at the Wells Fargo Center across the street. Although some of us (delegates) could see supporters from a distance, as we entered the convention center yesterday morning, it was not enough. Rumors were making their way across the street unchecked, and delegates felt alone and like nuisances in the Wells Fargo Center.

This event is our finally doing something about it. It was organized by me, Eric Beechwood, and Dicky Wurfel.

Highlights from this video

0: Dicky Wurfel, Senior Adviser on Philly.FYI, and the person who personally paid for this main stage production, introduces us.

0:45: Supporter: “What happened in there?!”

Jeff: “Our goal today is not to talk to you, our goal today is to answer your questions. So we’re going to introduce ourselves quickly, and then get right to your questions.”

Supporter: “We have lots of questions.”

Here is an alternative view of the same event, by the Sane Progressive.


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Many of the pledged Bernie Sanders Delegates on stage:


full-res Jeff Epstein from NJ

full-res Wayne Lewis from NJ

full-res Richard MacFarlane from NJ

full-res Kerith Strano-Taylor from PA

full-res Rob O’Connell from MO

full-res Jill from GA

full-res Gina from IN, Miquel Rodriguez(?) from CA, Saleed(?) from GA.

full-res Michelle McFadden-DiNicola from NJ

full-res James Pinard(?) from MA

full-res Jamie Brennon

full-res Kalilah and her father Andy, from ND

full-res Ann (Pelton?) from NC-10

1:45: Jeff, emotional: “I have been seeing you from across the street and it has been beautiful. So thank you.”

2:40: Kerith, from Pennsylvania, Berniecrat running this November in the general in PA-5:

“I need to tell you, that barefoot in this park is been the happiest I’ve been in three days.”

3:05: Rob: “…and I am Bernie or Bust I love all of you guys.” Laughs.

3:30: Gina from Indiana. White hat, light blue shirt with short sleeves:

“You are keeping the faith alive inside, so thank you. I walked out of the convention tonight, and I am not going back.”

3:55: Miguel Hispanic/Lebanese? from Los Angeles:

I am a lifelong democrat, and my and my wife’s registrations were switched. “Talk about disenfranchisement? You want my vote, you should’ve counted it the first time. I will spend the rest of my life battling the party. And we’re going Green… You guys are so beautiful.”

4:40: Saleed, member of Black Lives Matter, organizer for Fight for $15, Field Organizer for for the Democratic Party “mostly because Bernie Sanders”. From Georgia:

“Power to the people!”

6:20: Jill from congressional district 10 in Georgia. Licensed clinical social worker and part-time faculty member at some university. Wearing pink, long brown hair, glasses on top of her head:

Like many of you, I’ve always been a voter, but Bernie called me into the political process… I want you guys to know that it was very, very tough in that room. And there were times that I had to really hold on to [the fact that] I was representing 15,000 folks in Georgia, and 13 million voters across the United States.

Due to the orchestrated camera shots I’m not sure what you were able to see, but I hope you were able to see us and feel us. And know that we made our voices heard on Monday night.

7:35: Michelle from Middlesex County, New Jersey. Ran with Bernie on the ballot in NJ to give him a better spot:

“I’m filming you guys. I’m so proud to show everybody how gorgeous you look…

I am lucky to be a delegate. I feel like every single last one of you earned it just as much as I did. I know you’re treating us like celebrities–”

Supporters: “Because you are!! Because you are!!”

9:05: Jeff tells the story of yesterday morning’s encounter. Unfortunately when I say Michelle’s line, “I am so happy that you are not happy”, the video briefly cuts out as I switch the camera view. The crowd laughs and cheers.

Michelle: “Amen! Amen. Because There are far too many Americans that are complacent…” Emotional: “Stay fucking mad! Never stop never stop!”

10:00: Crowd chants: “Never stop!”

10:20: Chant: “We. Are. The 1900!”

11:10: James from central Massachusetts: “I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life working as a mental health counselor for children, including for LGBTQ kids in crisis transition. And this party has nothing to say about that currently. And I’m a little upset about that.”

13:00: Jamie from FL-23, Debra Wasserman Schultz’s district. Orange sleeveless shirt with buttons. Shoulder length brown hair:

“Sometimes I think the empty chairs in that room will speak louder…”

14:10: Kalilah, Native American from North Dakota, and her father, Andy, late 60’s? Yellow shirt, red suspenders, carved wooden cane.

“When we got off the bus and we’re heading into the convention, we heard you. Thank you.”

Crowd: “Thank you!!”

14:45-35: Andy was “supposed” to talk for two minutes, but ended up talking for 20. It was stressful for me but exactly what the crowd wanted.

This was very stressful for me as the MC, but beautiful for the audience, many of whom stood entranced, some of whom by the end were crying uncontrollably.

I felt it was important to get through the delegate introductions, to get to supporter questions as quickly as possible. We were given a total of 45 minutes. But each of the few times that I/we tried to stop him, people in the audience got very upset, referring to the centuries of genocide committed against his people, and they wanted him to take as much time as he needed.

My video does not focus on Andy’s speech, as much as it does on my trying to manage the situation. A better source for his speech would be at the 15 minute mark in The Sane Progressive’s broadcast of this same event.

Andy: “Bernie Sanders speaks to my heart, and he loves indigenous people.”

17:00: I tried to stop him, the audience wanted more.

Supporter: “Let him speak! As long as he needs!”

Jeff: “OK. As long as it’s what you want.”

Supporter: “We’re going to fight for you!! Fight the power!”

22:20: Supporter interrupts with a question. I enable this by giving him the microphone.

Another supporter: “Why are you interrupting him?”

25: He continues speaking. Supporter: “Let him speak! Let him speak! They been experiencing this for 250 years.”

30: I am told by Dicky that they have canceled the next event and we are granted an extra 30 minutes. I stop resisting.

32: He ends by singing a song and some in the audience are seen bawling.


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33:50: His daughter is filming and crying.

35: Debbie The Sane Progressive speaks.

38:00: Debbie: “It’s a fraud. It’s a fraud. It’s a fraud.”

Crowd: “Fraud! Fraud! Fraud!”

39:30: What happened the roll call?

40:15: Richard reviews what happened to trigger the walkout, as he and I discussed on this morning’s bus.

42:45: Gina addresses what happened at the media tent. The supporters stated that “we were waiting!”, apparently not realizing that where we walked out to was still well within the security perimeter, far from FDR Park.

She also clarifies about the police temporarily not letting people in or out of the media tent.

44:45: For the first time, I hear that there was snipers on the roof during the walk out. I believe that they were there for The entire convention. She says they were “aiming at the Bernie delegates”. While arguably true, I think is an exaggeration.

45: Jeff: “I livestreamed the entire walk out which you can see for yourself on Citizens’ Media TV.”

46: According to Ann, the two organizers of the walk out, one for Vermont, were “detained for hours” by the Secret Service. While it’s true that there were no arrests, people were detained “illegally” for hours. This is the first I’m hearing this as well.

48-55: Saleed talks to the crowd.

“What they are doing in there is a scripted television show. What we are doing out here is real democracy.

Show me what democracy looks like!” Crowd: “This is what democracy looks like!”

49:55: Supporter: “We heard your tears! We heard your tears!”

He does this exactly once. It’s not repeated as I expected it to be.

55:45: Debbie the Sane Progressive gets worked up.

Your votes don’t count anymore. We just had this election stolen! I don’t know how many more times I can say it!… They cheated, OK!? … She [Hillary Clinton] doesn’t need your vote! I beg of you!! … They stole it!! This is not real!! They’re pretending!! I beg of you, tell every single candidate that you will not vote for them. You will not get the money. You will not work for them! Unless they address the issue of election fraud!!


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Kerith and I discuss this in part two of coverage of this event. We strongly disagree with not voting.

58: Jill

59: Michelle discusses how the roll call was silent on a piece of paper in the morning, not perhaps as expected with each individual shouting out their vote.

1:01:30: Jill: Bernie sent an email requesting that we don’t protest.

1:02:20: Moving speech by Richard about how Hillary supporters do not have the passion about her as we do about Bernie.

1:04:00: Crowd: “Bernie! Or Jill! But never! Hill!”

Miguel: “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment!”

Miguel offers his credentials to anyone in the crowd who wants them, so they can enter the DNC. Credentials are giving out each morning and are only valid for the current day. It is unlikely that anyone who tried could actually get in, given the time of day and that the president is about to speak. Perhaps if they took them now and rushed over…

I am now so stressed about getting the microphone to Kerith, to give her the time she deserves, before we are kicked off stage.

(The original video goes out of sync with its audio at around this point.)

1:07:05-1:10:30: Kerith closes out the show with a three minute speech.

1:11:05: Stephanie Anders (?), independent Florida candidate running for Congress in Debra Wasserman Schultz’s district. She will indeed be in the general. She created this petition on labeling genetically modified foods.

1:12:45. A supporter (Dana Hall?) asks me (Jeff) if any Bernie delegates voted for Hillary. I don’t know the answer. I suspect a small amount, but the final roll call count will make that clear.

1:14:30: I show the top of the DNC coffin.

1:14:50-1:16:50: Billy Taylor

1:17:05: Jeff: “So let’s talk to the people who actually matter.”

1:18:05: Behind the stage: Kerith is interviewed by Pittsburgh’s WPXI TV.

1:20:20: Kerith and I realize that we cannot go back to the DNC, since Obama is about to speak.

1:20:50: Kerith: “So I can hang out and be in my bare feet for the rest of the damn night.”

Jeff: “And we can talk to real people.”

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.

This my friend Jessica Foley

Jessica and I met on an eleven hour road trip to South Carolina, along with Cody Reisig and Julian Alexander. We knocked on doors together for five days. It was a magical trip.

Although she may not be able to recite the ins and outs of every single one of Bernie Sanders policies, Jessica captures the essence and the emotion of this campaign like no one else I’ve met. It is easier to talk to strangers about Bernie Sanders when she is around, because just her presence makes people comfortable. She has a disarming personality.

How good is she? The campaign hired her to canvass in West and North Philadelphia over the past weekend. The one and only Cornel West, after hearing her life story, told an audience of 200 that he found Jessica to be “eloquent”.

How dedicated is she? After driving 11 hours back from South Carolina, she drove to Colorado to knock on doors with Cody. And a few weeks ago she came to my home town to knock on doors for *me*.

But best of all, now that her state of Pennsylvania is just about done voting, we here in New Jersey get to have her all to ourselves.