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
Neighborhood Libraries Step Into The 21st Century

Neighborhood Libraries Step Into The 21st Century

August 22, 2017  |  Vantage

One of the city's most important assets is our sprawling system of neighborhood libraries. These indispensable, community hubs, 52 in all, are beginning to receive desperately needed TLC after years of financial and structural neglect. Contributor Grace Diliberto gives us the details on two citywide initiatives to revive and reboot libraries for contemporary uses, followed by an extensive survey of some of the city's most architecturally distinct book lenders > more

Monument Lab Artist Stands Up For The City's Lost Stoops

Monument Lab Artist Stands Up For The City’s Lost Stoops

August 17, 2017  |  Vantage

Artist Kaitlin Pomerantz is on a mission to save Philadelphia's castaway stoops. Her project for this year's Monument Lab will memorialize the city's proverbial outdoor living room with a collection of salvaged stoops inside Washington Square Park. Contributor Star Herr-Cardillo has the story > more

In The Aftermath Of Charlottesville, Counting On The Catto Memorial

In The Aftermath Of Charlottesville, Counting On The Catto Memorial

August 15, 2017  |  Soapbox

As Southern cities erupt in protest and race-fueled violence over the removal of Confederate memorials, historian Amy Cohen looks at Philadelphia's lack of diversity in public monuments > more

In

In “Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture,” The City Is A Muse

August 11, 2017  |  Buzz

Groundbreaking exhibit of the work of Louis Kahn brings his ideas to life, says Nathaniel Popkin > more

Convention Center Survivor A Symbol Of Philly's Faded Industries

Convention Center Survivor A Symbol Of Philly’s Faded Industries

August 10, 2017  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow takes us for a spin to the corner of Race and Camac Streets where the city's commercial sectors have shifted gears for over a century > more

A Sneak Peek At <em>Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies</em>

A Sneak Peek At Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies

August 8, 2017  |  Buzz

Michael Bixler has this behind-the scenes look at Cai Guo-Qiang's interactive dreamscape, "Fireflies." The Chinese artist will debut his mobile art project on September 14 in celebration of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway's centennial > more