A bizarre scene unfolded early Friday at a Democratic National Committee (DNC) “unity reform commission,” as security officers attempted to take away a sign from a grassroots protestor upset with the status quo.
Katelyn Caralle of the Washington Free Beacon reports that a DNC sanctioned event intent on reforming the party after its disastrous 2016 election efforts was supposed to bring compromise on divisive issues such as the power of super delegates within their presidential primary.
However, two gentlemen brought pretty benign signs which read “Democratic Party or Undemocratic Party?”. Members of the commission were supposed to vote on a series issues, but the process was stalled when a security guard tried to take those signs away at the request of some members.
This led to Norman Soloman, the cofounder of Rootsaction.org, calling the whole thing “tainted.”
"Is a sign that dangerous?" the protester asked.
Another protester added that his sign had been taken from him before he even entered the meeting room.
"Excuse me, this is a public meeting, this process is tainted, you know that," the first man said, addressing the room. "The public was largely excluded by not being invited, by not being told–when we signed up we were never told the time or the room for this meeting, you know this is a tainted meeting."
"When a few people figure out how to participate by just sitting here, you want to take a sign away," the man continued. "I think that’s a mistake. It underscores the problem with how the DNC has not learned the lessons from the past."
Jennifer O’Malley Dillon settled the situation by saying that all members there “respect the grassroots.”
"I think all of the commission members deeply respect the grassroots that are here. And I think if you can just take your seat and hold your sign, we are all comfortable with that," Dillon said and was met with nods and murmurs of agreement, along with a a weak clap, from commission members.
Roots Action is an “independent initiative” group that believes the DNC leadership has abandoned its rank and file members.
“We need a fresh approach to defend the public interest. Our country faces a far-right Republican Party regime that is largely a subsidiary of corporate America, and a Democratic Party whose leadership is enmeshed with and compromised by corporate power.”
“Corporate power over both major parties is afflicting and poisoning the body politic. Genuine democracy is the antidote.”
This skirmish today is a small reminder of the much bigger problem within the Democratic Party. On one hand, there are the progressives, like Soloman, who believe the party is beholden to corporate interests. On the other hand, there is the Party leadership who are trying to figure out the best path forward while retaining moderate Democrats.
From an outsider's perspective, it is not entirely clear that silencing your-already-quiet grassroots members at a "unity reform" meeting for simply holding a sign is an optimal strategy. The altercation can be seen below.