Some Sanders supporters drift to Clinton, others plan DNC protests

    Gary Frazier of  Black Men for Bernie speaks to Bernie Sanders supporters during a meeting on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Gary Frazier of Black Men for Bernie speaks to Bernie Sanders supporters during a meeting on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    With Bernie Sanders saying he’ll vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election, but still not dropping out of the race just yet, what’s a Sanders supporter to do? 

    It depends on whom you ask.

    Sanders supporters remain deeply divided with just one month until the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

    “We come with an intention, and that intention is to have Bernie Sanders be our nominee,” said Gary Frazier with the group Black Men for Bernie. Frazier is helping to organize demonstrations during the DNC involving thousands of protesters, including what he calls a “massive de-registration.”

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    “On the fourth day of the Democratic Convention — win, lose or draw — we will deliver a coffin to the DNC, and that coffin will contain every signature of every voter that was a Democrat that will now de-register from them,” he said. 

    Sanders delegates, who will be taking his agenda to the DNC, are facing pressure from the “Bernie or Bust” camp to walk out of the convention if he isn’t the nominee. 

    Some, including Kat Richter of Philadelphia, are waiting until after the convention to decide whether they’ll vote for Clinton.

    “A lot of us are looking to Bernie for guidance on that,” said Richter. “So if he ends up instructing his supporters to follow him in this way, I see myself doing that. I may not be happy about it, but I certainly don’t want to throw away my vote just for the point of making a statement.”

    Another Sanders delegate, Amanda McIllmurray, said she will likely vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in November.

    “I believe in people unity as opposed to party unity,” McIllmurray said. 

    Others — mostly older delegates who came up in the 1960s — are already vowing to toe the Democratic Party line, while pushing for a progressive platform that embraces the ideas Sanders touted on the campaign trail, such as a single-payer health care system and free college tuition. 

    Those rejecting the “Bernie or Bust” stance are convinced a vote for Clinton is the only path to defeating presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. 

    “I’m going to work for Hillary Clinton because of where I live, and where I live is the real world,” said Lou Agre, a Sanders delegate and Democratic ward leader in Philadelphia. “There’s no up side to having Donald Trump as the president.

    “He’s a lunatic and we should do everything we can to defeat him — as Bernie Sanders said.”

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