Bernie Fans Say 'Fart-In' Against Hillary Will Go On

Unswayed by his endorsement, progressives continue to stockpile beans for the Democratic convention.
By Steven Nelson | Staff Writer July 12, 2016, at 2:05 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, i-Vt., endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, but some supporters won't back off a smelly protest. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Advocates for poor people and progressive causes say they still plan to make a stink – literally – during Hillary Clinton’s big night accepting the Democratic presidential nomination this month.

The plan: feed beans to Democratic National Convention delegates for Bernie Sanders, and send them into the Philadelphia convention hall to show what they think of the former secretary of state.

Sanders-supporting organizers of the odious protest also are unswayed by the Vermont senator's Tuesday endorsement of Clinton and will push ahead.

In fact, Cheri Honkala, national coordinator for the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, expects more beans to pour into her group's downtown Philadelphia office.

Boxes of dry beans and heavy containers of canned beans already have arrived by mail, Honkala says, in all varieties: navy, pinto, lima and baked, with return addresses in Texas, Wisconsin and across the Rust Belt.

“Those beans will probably quadruple” after Sanders' endorsement, Honkala says.

Many Sanders supporters "are not happy" about the two major party candidates, she says. "They do not represent the American people. It’s like they're reality-show characters, two villains who can’t be trusted."

Organizers have not tested varieties to discern the smelliest option, but Honkala says baked beans likely will be preferred and paired with hot dogs at a feeding location in a "Clintonville" camp in northern Philadelphia.

A second feeding location is likely to be at the group's office a few blocks from the convention venue for delegates, journalists and others heading into the speech.

‘Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that,’ the Vermont senator said.

"It shows the level of absolute disgust that we're at – we think we're going to remember 2016 as the year we begin to bury the two corporate political parties," Honkala says. “It’s really a shame – this whole thing does stink. Democrats and Republicans are like Pepsi and Coke. They listen to corporations and they don't listen to anti-poverty activists."

Political protest plans often are overambitious and in this case, success will be difficult to measure. But Honkala says her group has a track record of organizing big protests at political conventions and pairs its organizing muscle with a coalition of other groups.

Dr. Walter Tsou, a leader with the Philadelphia branch of Physicians for Social Responsibility and a former Philadelphia health commissioner who strongly supports single-payer health insurance, is helping promote the cause.

"The fart-in is to raise attention about things that really stink in our society and one of them is our health care financing system," he says. "People are making a lot of platitudes about how great the Affordable Care Act is, but there are a lot of gaps."

Citizens for Trump organizer says precautions will be taken against 'The Purge.'

Tsou, a former president of the American Public Health Association, also is helping promote protests on the first day of the DNC and says he will eat beans in solidarity with "fart-in" participants, though he says he won't be entering the convention hall.

Tsou says he hasn't asked friends who are delegates if they plan to join the fart-in. But Honkala says she's in contact with "a bunch" of delegates who intend to participate, though she declined to provide their names, saying they fear losing their seats.

Inspiration for the protest comes from Saul Alinsky, the community organizing theorist, who decades ago proposed a fart-in protest in Rochester, New York.

Honkala says she's no fan of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, and her group also intends to join protests at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, though it won't be organizing a mass flatulence event there.

Karen Finney, a spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign, says she has "no comment" on the planned fart-in.