Berned Out On The Doorstep Of The DNC

July 27, 2016 |  by  |  Last Light  |  , ,

 

In theory, FDR Park and the protest area outside of the barricades of the Wells Fargo Center—ground zero of the 2106 Democratic National Convention—is the front lines for political demonstrations. All delegates entering the network of gates and security checkpoints on their way to the convention floor must pass within five feet of rally cries blaring from the megaphones and strained vocal chords of Bernie Sanders supporters and a cacophony of other divergent political rants that fill in the background. This “Free Speech Zone,” the city’s official protest perimeter, begins at the concrete barriers at Pattison Avenue and heads down South Broad Street spilling into the 348 verdant acres of FDR Park where many out-of-towners have pitched tents and set up camp. The area feels less like a quarantine of First Amendment rights and more like a huge, communal living room. By loosening park regulations and enforcing around-the-clock police patrols, the City has provided a safe area for political activism, self expression, and a fixed public space to embrace an historic moment, all while giving folks a free place to sleep. It’s quite the comfortable set up and far from the confines of a corral. People there are excited and the energy is genuinely palatable.

However, along with the punishing heat and humidity is the subtle air of resignation, disillusionment, and fatigue. Highly visible demonstrations continue to circle the city with protests against social injustice, anti-immigration policy, and economic inequality, putting principles in front of the general public at Marconi Plaza, the Municipal Building, and on the aprons of City Hall. Down at the DNC perimeter, the “Bernie or Bust” crowd is starting to lose relevance and steam as they continue to put all of their energy behind denial rather than concede to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as Sanders has done to spare the country the horror and indignity of electing Donald Trump in November. As a result, the scene at the Free Speech Zone has become one of curiosity, consternation, and confusion; a dimming blaze of potent, political fire that is quickly Berning itself out.

In the Zone at the DNC. Photographs by Michael Bixler

DNC1

DNC3

DNC2

DNC5

DNC6

DNC7

DNC8

DNC9

DNC10

DNC12

DNC14

DNC15

DNC22

DNC26

DNC27

DNC29

DNC28

About the author

Michael Bixler is a writer, photographer, and managing editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a former arts and entertainment reporter with Mountain Xpress weekly in Asheville, North Carolina and a native of South Carolina. Bixler has a keen interest in adaptive reuse, underappreciated architecture, contemporary literature and art, and forward-thinking dialogue about people and place. mmbixler.tumblr.com

Send a message!



1 Comment


  1. Nothing like a political convention to bring all the weirdos together!

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
On 40th Street, New Life For A Long-Hidden Furness

On 40th Street, New Life For A Long-Hidden Furness

October 18, 2017  |  Vantage

What's it take to restore this early Furness? Hidden City talks to developer Tom Lussenhop about the tear-down disaster ongoing across the city and his plans for the former West Philadelphia Institute > more

Praise And Protest At Historical Commission Meeting

Praise And Protest At Historical Commission Meeting

October 17, 2017  |  News

Applause and anger filled the room at the monthly Historical Commission meeting on Friday. GroJLart has the details > more

The True Center Of The City Revealed

The True Center Of The City Revealed

October 13, 2017  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

City Hall may be the "heart" of Philadelphia, but an unassuming corner in North Philly is the true center of the city. Harry K. explores the evolution of Penn's greene country towne and how Philadelphia has a history of being the center of attention > more

LIGHTS! MUSIC! ACTION! Historic Lansdowne Theater Poised For A Comeback

LIGHTS! MUSIC! ACTION! Historic Lansdowne Theater Poised For A Comeback

October 11, 2017  |  Vantage

After 30 years' slumber, Lansdowne's sumptuous Art Deco movie palace is ready to wake up, and rouse Main Street too, with music and community spirit. Ben Leech has the story > more

Wish You Were Here: Postcards From The Past Recall

Wish You Were Here: Postcards From The Past Recall “Real Philadelphia”

October 10, 2017  |  Vantage

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia's new exhibition, "Real Philadelphia: Selections from the Robert M. Skaler Postcard Collection," puts elusive images of working class city life in the limelight. Contributor Karen Chernick has the review > more

Designing The Future Of Healthcare With Stephen Klasko

Designing The Future Of Healthcare With Stephen Klasko

October 4, 2017  |  Vantage

Dr. Stephen Klasko wants to disrupt traditional hospital care and integrate medicine into our everyday life. Through service and information delivery systems similar to Netflix, Apple stores, and virtual reality, the president and CEO of Jefferson Healthcare System believes the future of our well being lies in smart design. Contributor Hilary Jay, founder of DesignPhiladelphia, sits down with Dr. Klasko to discuss breaking the status quo of the medical industry with user-minded health care > more