I'm not surprised at all by this BuzzFeed article on Bernie's supporters planning on both mass disruptions and getting arrested at the Philly convention next month. If this sounds like Occupy tactics, there's a reason for that, as some of the same people behind those protests 8 years ago were talking the same kind of disruptions while gathered at the People's Summit conference last week.
The People’s Summit conference, sponsored by the National Nurses United — a progressive union that backed Sanders to the hilt during his run for president — is aimed at uniting all elements of progressivism into a single effort that exerts pressure on the Democratic Party and its presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. Mourning Sanders’ loss and imagining what might have been was one part of the conversation.
Another saw older, established progressive leaders urging Sanders’ youth legion to stick together and try to achieve Bernie’s political revolution through more conventional means like influencing the Democratic Party platform and working in the grassroots for like-minded down-ballot candidates.
In the basement of the Lakeside Center, where the Summit was held, some of those younger Sanders supporters prepared for what they called “direct action” — loud, consistent, and perhaps disruptive protest outside the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Several dozen of them attended a training on how to march, how to follow a chant, how to defy police orders to disperse by sitting and locking arms in what’s called a “human chain,” and how to conduct themselves when the police stepped in and physically removed them.
Trainers wearing fake badges waded among the chanting and human-chained “protesters,” pulling them apart, putting their hands behind their backs, and leading them away.
The simulation was for what training leaders called “a blockade,” but they stressed blocking busy intersections or other disruptions may not be what the final protest plan looks like. “Direct action,” said participants in the training, is non-violent and peaceful.
Thousands of Sanders supporters have already signed a Facebook petition promising to protest the Democratic convention. Many of those gathered at The People’s Summit expected those protests to include police stepping in. Rumors of police efforts to push protests back from the convention site or other efforts by the authorities to quiet the Sanders uprising abounded in the training session.
Here's the thing: as with Occupy, what is this supposed to accomplish, exactly? Yes, you're upset about Hillary, you wanted Bernie Sanders as the candidate, and you're planning on getting kettled on purpose. But what will that actually do?
It's not going to make Bernie the candidate. It's not going to stop Donald Trump. It's not going to help liberals win local and state races, and it's not going to help get rid of Republican control of the House and Senate.
It's your protest, and lord knows that there are plenty of things on this Earth worth protesting. But protests have to be followed up by action, and that's what I'm not seeing.
“They’re going to arrest people, period, end of story. So we just want to prepare ourselves,” said Cassidy Turner of San Diego. “We’re not going to be violent, we don’t really have a reason to get arrested but it’s going to happen. So we want to prepare ourselves.”