Gary Johnson

Black Men for Bernie Rally: 'I Like Gary Johnson, All My Friends Like Gary Johnson'

Plus: a pro-Hillary protester exposed as conservative activist James O'Keefe


Robby Soave / Reason

Occupy DNC Convention and Black Men for Bernie hosted a rally at a park near Philadelphia's City Hall on Wednesday, where the mood was peaceful, pleasant, but very much opposed to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

"We were all a little heartbroken yesterday," Claudia Stauber, a Sanders delegate, told a crowd of more than 100 people. "But today is totally a new day."

If attendees were disheartened by Sanders's failure to capture the Democratic Party presidential nomination yesterday—Hillary Clinton secured the nomination as expected—they barely showed it.

"I can't shake the feeling that we're going to win," said Stauber. "I don' know how, or with whom in the front, but I really have this tangible feeling that we are going to win this election. The force is truly with us."

Some attendees wanted to continue supporting Sanders as a write-in candidate. Others were ready to jump on board the Jill Stein train. Still others had positive things to say about Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

"Gary Johnson is my second choice, and he's my back up," Keith West, a rally attendee, told Reason. He planned to work for the Stein campaign but praised Johnson's platform. "I like Johnson, all of my friends like Johnson."

A friend of West (the two are pictured above), also had nice things to say about Johnson, though she was wary of his economic and environmental positions. But Clinton was totally unacceptable to both of them.

"I don't like that she doesn't have a racial justice platform, how she's responsible for the mass incarceration of African Americans," said West. "If you look at Hillary Clinton, she's been taking advantage of black people for a very long time."

At least two members of the crowd—a young man and young woman--appeared to be Clinton supporters: they were decked out in Clinton swag. They engaged several activists and urged them to get behind Clinton. The conversations became tense—a black rally attendee told the young woman that both Clinton and President Obama had betrayed their commitments to the black community. Other pro-Sanders people offered free hugs to defuse the situation. (This correspondent did not solicit hugs, but received two of them, anyway.)

The young man in the "I'm with Her" T-shirt was interviewed by another reporter, and claimed he had been threatened by a pro-Bernie activist for daring to support Clinton. That activist overheard him, and vehemently denied the charge. The young man identified himself to the reporter as James O'Keefe, at which point I immediately recognized him as conservative activist James O'Keefe—the guy who makes undercover sting videos. He told me he is often mistaken for that James O'Keefe, but, no, it's him.

Later, some religious anti-gay protesters appeared on site. Police quickly surrounded them to prevent the rally attendees from becoming violent, although I didn't see anything that looked particularly worrisome. One officer suggested to the protesters—very carefully and diplomatically—that he might have to arrest them for disorderly conduct on grounds that they were inciting violence. (Might, mind you.) The protesters countered that they had every right to be there and had no intention to incite anyone. They eventually agreed to protest for another 45 minutes and then leave willingly. The officer accepted this arrangement.