Politics

Dispatches from the DNC: Sanders supporters, including Alaska delegates, exit protest peacefully

ADN reporter Erica Martinson is in Philadelphia covering Alaskans and Alaska issues at the Democratic National Convention.

Sanders supporters exit protest peacefully

Updated 4:35 p.m. (Alaska time)

Sanders supporters are now exiting press tent outside the DNC, where reporters and protesters were generally blocked from entering and exiting by lines of police officers standing calmly, hands crossed in front of themselves, in rows at all exits. Some may have slipped out during the protest — several Alaska delegates who were present at the start of the protest can no longer be located inside.

"We are one united delegation of Bernie Sanders supporters," said Jeffrey Eide of North Dakota, who appeared to be instructing protesters. "It's likely that they're going to let us out, as long as we promise to be respectful and peaceful, and that's exactly what we intend to do. The message was to come here and be heard.

"We've done that," Eide said shortly before the press tent doors were opened to the conventiongoers.

According to a press release from the Coalition of 57, Alaska's Jill Yordy was one of the protest organizers.

The delegates and Sanders supporters say that the election process was not fair. One woman with "DNC" written on her hand, which she was holding over her mouth, held a sign that said "WV Bernie won all 55 counties. WV Votes: HRC 19 Bernie 18."

In Alaska, Sanders won 81.6 percent of the vote and Clinton won 18.4 percent of the vote. That afforded Sanders 13 delegates, and Clinton three. Alaska's four superdelegates voted 3 to 1 for Clinton and Sanders, respectively.

The delegates said they want to re-enter the convention to support a Black Lives Matter protest that may happen inside soon.

Back in the convention center, the programming is continuing onstage as scheduled.

Sanders delegates protest

Updated 4 p.m. (Alaska time)

A group of Sanders delegates stormed the press filing center outside the Democratic National Convention in protest just after Hillary Clinton was announced as the winner of the party's presidential nomination. They were sitting and silent.

Several Alaska delegates were among the group.

Not all Sanders supporters made it into the media center before police barred the door, creating a two-part stand-off, with plenty of media access on both sides of the doors.

Alaska delegate Taz Tally said about two-thirds of the Alaska delegation walked out of the convention, possibly all of the state's Sanders delegates. Tally said the effort was organized via text message during delegate voting Tuesday evening.

Alaska delegate Jill Yordy, who worked for the Sanders campaign in Alaska, said the walkout was not organized by the campaign, but a "grass-roots" effort.

Moments later, under a leader's direction, protesters stood, heading to the door in a large group in an attempt to go back to the convention to support "our brothers and sisters in the Black Lives Matter movement."

Alaska votes

Updated 2:50 p.m. (Alaska time)

Day two of the Democratic National Convention has begun, and the delegates are getting down to perhaps the convention's most impactful moment: voting to nominate a candidate for president of the United States.

Alaska "Berniecrats" were cheered to find Sen. Bernie Sanders was seated right above them for the roll call vote, wherein each state declares its delegates' votes for president.

Alaska Democratic Party Chairman Casey Steinau announced Alaska's votes: six for presumed nominee Hillary Clinton and 14 for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Thirteen delegates were bound to Sanders and three to Clinton. The state's four superdelegates split, three for Clinton and one for Sanders.

Alaska's 20 vote puts the state on the less-influential end of the nominating contest. Only Wyoming, Democrats Abroad and four territories have fewer delegates. There are 4,765 delegate votes to the Democratic National Convention, and 2,383 are needed to win the party's nomination.

Clinton won 34 states' contests, and Sanders took 23.

Alaska is on the front lines of climate change, facing rising seas and retreating glaciers; has a diverse Native population; and is the reason that the United States is an Arctic nation, Steinau said before casting the state's votes.

Bern'd breakfast

Updated 7 a.m. Tuesday (Alaska time)

Alaska's delegates to the Democratic National Convention heard from Sen. Bernie Sanders during his tour-de-breakfast Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Alaska Democrats voted 82 percent for Sanders in the caucuses, and many of the delegates are fervent fans, beginning to adjust to his new message this week urging his supporters to support presumed nominee Hillary Clinton.

Sanders drew huge applause from the group and excited everyone by driving home his core message: "We have to think big, not small."

Sanders defended the economic progress the country has made since the "very deep and dark depression" that was ongoing when President Barack Obama came into office.

[Alaska delegates for Sanders in Philadelphia not happy about emails, response]

But, he said, "the truth of the matter is that for the last 35 or 40 years, the great middle class, once the envy of the world, has been disappearing. That's the truth. The truth is that millions of our people, in Wisconsin, in Montana, in Alaska are today working longer hours for lower wages. And they're asking why. What happened?"

The answer, Sanders said, is public policy.

"The United States is not a poor country. We are the wealthiest country in the history of the world," Sanders said. But "almost all of the new wealth and income being generated is going to the top one percent."

[After day of discord, Democrats find common ground in opposing Trump]

Sanders advocated raising the minimum wage and noted that Republican nominee Donald Trump wants to give states the right to lower the minimum wage. And Sanders said the U.S. needs universal health care.

"We need pay equity for women. No excuse!" Sanders said. "Hillary Clinton believes that; Donald Trump does not."

Throughout his speech, Sanders connected his priorities to Clinton's and contrasted them with Trump's policies.

Sanders had the delegates on their feet with his rousing speech. And one Alaska delegate gave Sanders' wife, Jane, her delegate kuspuk. Jane Sanders visited Alaska during her husband's presidential campaign.

[Winners and losers from the first night of the Democratic convention]

Alaskans are joining delegates from Montana and Wisconsin for breakfast each morning, and they also heard Tuesday from Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin and Montana Sen. Jon Tester.

Harkin, a close friend of Sanders but a supporter of Clinton, spoke to the Sanders fans about the importance of staying active in the party. Harkin noted that he supported Minnesota Rep. Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 presidential race — "the Bernie Sanders of 1968," he said.

"I've often thought… maybe we didn't work as hard as we could have. …Think of what the world would be like if we hadn't had eight years of Richard Nixon in the White House," Harkin said.

Harkin lauded his "friends in the Sanders camp" for encouraging "the most progressive Democratic party platform" in his lifetime, but he urged them to come together with the Clinton campaign, hold her to progressive stances and "deny Donald Trump" the White House.

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is a former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C.

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