Supporters of Bernie Sanders went on the attack this weekend after a contentious Democratic state convention in Nevada, as a handful responded to perceived mistreatment by the party by leaving death threats for state party chair Roberta Lange.
Now many of those leaving the crude and threatening messages are speaking out, explaining their reasoning for lashing out and some apologizing for their actions.
The death threats were sparked by a convention this past Saturday in which supporters claim they were treated unfairly by the Nevada Democratic Party. Sanders had fewer delegates seated at the convention, and ended up losing two pledged delegates his campaign had been able to steal away from Clinton at the Clark County convention last month.
Many Bernie Sanders fans followed the convention live through videos broadcast on Periscope, showing the convention descending into madness as his supporters grew increasingly vocal about what they believed was the party ignoring their calls for a recount. Attendees booed speakers and one even raised a chair as if to throw it before security was able to wrestle it away.
Angry supporters also found the personal cell phone number of Roberta Lange, the chair who was the target of their rage at the convention, and soon her voicemail and text messages were filled with threats. The Nevada Democratic party shared some of those messages publicly, including the contact information for the people leaving them, and Rolling Stone tracked down a number of them.
Some, like Austin, were apologetic for their actions.
“People get upset about stuff, and they say things in the heat of the moment,” he said. “I regret saying anything I may have said that may have been offensive or taken as a threat, yeah. Anything that I’ve ever said to anybody, of course, I regret that. In this specific situation, I would definitely say that I would regret saying anything like that. I don’t have any ill will toward anybody, any political establishment, or party, or campaign, or [anyone] associated with any of those people.”
Many others described a feeling of desperation with Clinton seemingly pulling away with the nomination despite what they believe to be a process unfairly tilted against Sanders. Tyler, a 29-year-old who described himself as broke after quitting his “corporate job” in January, said watching Bernie Sanders lose has been one of the most difficult experiences of his life.
Tyler said he was hooked on Sanders after watching a bird land on his podium during a rally earlier this year, describing it as something of a life-changing experience for him.
“But I would say the true thing that really hooked me was when the bird landed on his podium. It was the first time that something political actually moved me, and it moved me to the point where I cried…. I’m a person that has a military dad, my parents got divorced, my grandmother had Parkinson’s — I just had this very rough, challenging childhood where I was just kind of sad. It was such a sad childhood…. I was just a tough kid. I only cry in a funeral for family, and all of a sudden I’m 29, I see a man who I’m already just all about his campaign, and then the bird lands on his thing, and people’s reaction — I connected. I connected to a moment with all those people about something just way different.”
The actions at the Nevada state convention have become a major matter of contention between the Democratic Party and the Sanders campaign. Nevada party leaders have decried the actions of the supporters and blamed Sanders for fueling their discontent with constant messages that the process is treating his campaign unfairly.
"The Sanders campaign helped incite everything that happened," Roberta Lange said after receiving death threats https://t.co/4Ofa7K5glb— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 18, 2016
Bernie Sanders has shot back, issuing a press release that took on the party and noted that his own Nevada office had a bullet shot at it sometime earlier this year.
The Bernie Sanders supporters who left death threats for Roberta Lange may not be in the clear. Las Vegas police are now investigating the threats and some of the people could be facing charges, Newsweek reported.
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]