When the Bernie Sanders' hopes of winning the Democratic nomination officially ended inside of the Democratic Convention hall Tuesday, his most ardent supporters took their fury outside.
Sanders delegates and supporters from across the U.S.—California, Wyoming, Utah, you name it—walked out of the arena in protest. “Show me what Democracy looks like,” they chanted, hoisting Bernie signs above the sea of heads heading toward the exit. “This is what democracy looks like.” As the crowd shuffled along, a woman in a red dress said aloud, “They just signed the whole nomination over to Trump.”
In the end, Sanders was the one to make a motion to give the nomination to Clinton, after spending weeks telling his supporters to vote for her. But the emotions of many of his delegates were raw. They were convinced the fires of revolution they’d sparked had been doused by the powers that be in the Democratic Party—a feeling that was stoked by the release of 20,000 hacked DNC emails.
“He made a commitment to run for president. He had made a commitment to contest this convention. He hadn’t conceded. He hadn’t suspended. He hadn’t released us. And he told us that he would be grateful for our vote” said Jim Boydston, a delegate from California. “And then he just handed it off.”
Standing outside of the arena in a light blue Sanders shirt embellished with pins and a “Veterans for Bernie” sticker, Boydston wondered aloud over why Sanders had just decided to "torpedo" the movement. Others also made clear that they no longer felt required to follow Sanders lead.
“You can’t just start and stop a movement,” Kshama Sawant, who sits o the Seattle City Council, told TIME earlier on Tuesday. Sawant was not at the walk-out. “It’s not a faucet. We are human beings, we are activists, we are people who have for years been angry at not being offered a real choice. We don’t believe that the Dems are any answer for the Republicans.”
Outside of the arena, with the protest still ongoing, two women embraced, comforting each other as they wept. One woman, an alternate delegate from Georgia said through tears, “We know what they’re doing. We’re smarter than them.” The woman, Paula Olivares, then turned to the watching news cameras and said, “In 2016, elections are stolen in front of people’s eyes.”
Austin Dreis-Ornelas, a Texas delegate, said he felt “despair” at Sanders loss to Clinton. “Because we worked so f**king hard,” he said through tears. “The email leaks confirmed what we knew was true all along.”
A woman dressed like Princess Leia, donning hair buns and a white tunic, held up a sign that said “Bernie is our only hope.” Representatives of the National Nurses United union, wearing red scrubs and green Robin Hood hats, held signs calling for universal healthcare. Dozens wore black, blue or white tape over their months in silent protest of the Democratic National Committee.
More than one hundred protesters eventually gathered around the entrance to the media tent, across the street from the Wells Fargo Arena, where the convention was taking place. The scene was a mix of despair, anger and surrender. Their goal, said Erik Molvar of Wyoming, was to occupy the media tent. The media, Molvar said, was guilty of skewing coverage in favor of the just-named Democratic nominee for president. The group held hands and swayed, singing “This Land Is Your Land,” a 1940 Woody Guthrie folk song that has long been an anthem of progressive politics.
The group did not represent all Sanders supporters at the convention. Ken Roos, a Sanders delegate from New Hampshire was incredulous. “Bernie’s revolution should continue, but not to splinter the party," he said. "Who are these people going to vote for? What do they want to accomplish?”
The demonstrators inside the media tent left at around 8:20 p.m., when organizers called the demonstrators inside to watch the Mothers of the Movement, a group of women who have lost children to gun violence, including police shootings. "Come inside to support Black Lives Matter," said Jeffrey Eide, a North Dakota delegate.
With reporting by Sam Frizell Charlotte Alter, Zeke Miller, and Jay Newton Small/ Philadelphia