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Tensions at Democratic convention still high with some Sanders supporters




Dallas Fowler.
Dallas Fowler.

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As the Democratic National Convention heads into its final night, tensions remain high between supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders and backers of party nominee Hillary Clinton  — at least according to some Sanders delegates, including Dallas Fowler.

Fowler is a California delegate for Sanders. Her mother, Carolyn, is team Clinton. You can listen to some of their past discussions with Take Two here and here.

Dallas told Take Two the frustration among Sanders supporters remained high heading into the fourth and final day of the convention. She described one incident in which food was allegedly thrown at the 17-year-old delegate Zenaida Huerta and another in which 20-year-old delegate Shawnee Badger was allegedly pushed down stairs.

While KPCC has not independently verified any claims about physical attacks, the frustration of Sanders supporters comes across loud and clear on the social media feeds of both young women.

A Facebook video posted to Badger's account appears to show the pushing incident happening in the stands at the convention.

Huerta, meanwhile, has posted a series of complaints about the treatment of Sanders delegates.

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Video from Huerta of more arguments on convention floor:

Huerto video

Her responses: 

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The following interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.

Interview highlights

On Tuesday, it seemed like you had some mixed feelings. You were still quite staunch in your support of Bernie Sanders. How are you feeling at this very moment?

Dallas Fowler: At this moment, I think there's just a high level of frustration with the treatment of Sanders supporters. I have been privy to many unfortunate events that have happened here, one that included food being thrown at our youngest delegate, who is 17 years old — Zenaida Huerta — and our 20-year-old delegate being pushed down the stairs on the convention floor. Her name is Shawnee Badger, and she was pushed by a gentleman named John Hanna, who works with the California Democratic Party. So when you have incidents like this, our young people being attacked physically, it's very disheartening on how we can come together as a party, and it's highly misrepresentative of their candidate. I do not believe that Secretary Clinton would condone any of this type of behavior. However, it makes it very hard for us to unite as a party, and it keeps our frustrations and tensions very high.

I can't imagine you're just sitting there in the cafeteria and someone throws a piece of pizza at a delegate's head. What are some of the conversations that are leading up to some of these more temper-fueled moments?

In the incident of the food being thrown last night, we were on the convention floor. We were sitting there, 17-year-old Zenaida was holding up a no TPP sign. She does not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that is happening, and there are specific items that are alarming to her, and as well as many other members of our party, on both sides of the primary. And there was another older woman that threw food at her, because she was standing with a sign. She wasn't yelling, she wasn't making noise — she just carefully stood there with her sign. And we have First Amendment rights in this country, and I think that everyone should try to be as respectful as possible. And in her form, in her mind, she was being respectful by allowing people to hear what was being said by the speaker. However, she also wanted to reserve her right to protest, which in this party, we are a party that has protested historically. And so that is something that I think is, frankly, a disgrace to the representation that the California delegation brings as the largest delegation that is here at the convention in Philly.

Food fights and pushing aside, how do you think you and other Bernie supporters are feeling? We've heard speeches over the week — Bernie Sanders himself came out and said, hey, it's time to get behind the nominee. What do you think? Are people when they go back home ready to say, OK, I'm going to vote for the Democratic nominee, despite who I initially was here as a delegate for? Or do things like food fights and stair incidents change that decision?

No, I don't know that that's going to specifically change that, but I think it's going to make it a harder road to tow in terms of getting everybody on board. For me, specifically, there are some things I am looking forward to hearing the secretary speak about this evening that are potentially very strong uniters for us.

What could she say this evening?

We really still want to hear that she's not going to support TPP, or support it going to the floor in a lame-duck Congress. We also want to hear her stance on environmental issues, like fracking. Have you changed your position, and those are some of the issues that I think could really unite people and get them on board with Team Hillary in the fall. So those are some things we want to hear her say. Also, where do we fall in line? Do you have a place for me? What do you have for these people who have supported Senator Sanders and have done a great amount of work to move our party platform forward, which has been a huge win — but I was speaking to some other people earlier in this week. There's a right way to win, and there's a wrong way to win. And there's a right way to lose, and there's a wrong way to lose. And I think that Senator Sanders ran a historical campaign, and he has still won. He has won with his platform, and the movement that he has created. And I think there's still a lot to be excited about. It is very much an honor to be able to be a witness to the nomination of our party's first female president of the United States. However, we still have much work to do to come together.

Dallas, it sounds to me as if you're keeping an open mind. You're waiting to see what Hillary Clinton has to say tonight, and see how things play out in the months to come between now and November. We've heard a lot about this "Bernie or Bust" campaign, and speaking with fellow Bernie Sanders delegates there, and especially the delegates from California, do you get a sense that there are some who feel like, no matter what happens, I'm going to not vote, or I'll even vote for Donald Trump?

Oh yeah. Yes, there are definitely factions that will never support Secretary Clinton, and they have their own reasons. And then there are people who are going to leave the party. And quite frankly, with some of the actions today, it puts it on the table for me as to whether or not I want to be a part of a party that treats its people like this. So I do believe that, by me speaking out this morning with some of the delegation, that there are maybe being some actions taken. However, we want to just wait and see. And you are correct, we are definitely waiting to hear from the secretary as to how she plans to unite us for the fall. Because we do have to come together. No one wants to support Donald Trump. However, we may have several that would go to the Green Party. There will be some that will not stay, but there will be some that do believe that the party is worth staying and fighting for. And hopefully we can maintain most of them, however, the party is not making it easy right now.