Melee at Democratic Convention in Nevada

     LAS VEGAS (CN) — The day after a Nevada judge denied Bernie Sanders supporters an injunction against party membership elections, the Nevada Democratic Party convention on Saturday devolved into a melee requiring police response to restore order.
     Brown-shirted Las Vegas Metropolitan Police at one point lined the front of the stage at the Paris Casino and threatened to arrest any unruly attendees, many of whom were Sanders supporters.
     Hillary Clinton’s 1,693 delegates and alternates narrowly outnumbered Sanders’ 1,662 at the state convention, but Sanders supporters say 64 of their number were excluded due to early maneuvering by party officials.
     Tensions ran high almost as soon as the convention began, as Sanders delegates tried to stop state party Chairwoman Roberta Lange from adopting temporary convention rules. Sanders’ crew said a preliminary vote was held too early, and too many delegates were not assembled.
     A Facebook video posted by convention attendee Bri Setzer shows Lange calling for a voice vote on a motion to adopt temporary convention rules.
     With Lange on stage, a Sanders delegate is heard asking for a recount, saying petitions were not distributed.
     “Nine-thirty [a.m.] was too soon for a preliminary vote,” the delegate said. “People were not seated and did not get the petitions. You can’t count petitions if nobody got to sign them.”
     Lange then called for a voice vote on adopting the temporary rules, and ordered them adopted, despite an apparent majority in opposition.
     The convention erupted into chaos as angry Sanders supporters crowded the stage, shouted at party officials and declared no-confidence in their ability to lead.
     Many Clinton supporters called for the arrest of unruly Sanders delegates, and police eventually lined the front of the stage to prevent violence and restore order.
     Also on the receiving end of derision from Sanders supporters was U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Cal.
     Boxer is a Clinton supporter and chastised the hostile crowd of Sanders supporters who shouted and booed while she tried to address the convention.
     “The future of the country is at stake. When you boo me, you boo Bernie Sanders. Go ahead. You’re booing Bernie Sanders,” Boxer said.
     Sanders supporters were upset that state party officials denied credentials to as many as 64 of them, and said they would file a minority report challenging the convention results.
     The state party determined that the people who were excluded did not register as Democrats before a filing deadline, and revoked their credentials.
     Like Sanders, many of his supporters are independents and not actual Democratic Party members. Sanders caucuses with Democrats in the U.S. Senate, making him a party outsider.
     Clinton won the Nevada Democratic Caucuses in February, with 6,316 votes to Sanders’ 5,678, and secured 20 Nevada delegates to Sanders’ 15 for the Democratic National Convention.
     Nevada will send 43 delegates and three alternates to the national convention in July. In addition to the 35 pledged delegates, another eight go as unpledged “PLEO delegates, Democratic elected officials and party leaders who decide independently which presidential candidate they will support,” according the state party’s website.
     PLEO delegates are members of the Democratic National Committee, or “distinguished party leaders,” or sitting Democratic governors or members of Congress.
     The Saturday melee followed a legal setback on Friday for Nevada’s Sanders supporters, who had filed a complaint accusing state party leaders of violating their own rules for electing executive board and central committee members during the state convention.
     Clark County Judge Ron Israel on Friday refused to issue an injunction and dismissed the complaint from Nevada Democratic Party members who support Sanders.
     After the ruling Friday, the Nevada Democratic Party said Israel “disputed essentially every argument from the plaintiffs, denied their request for a preliminary injunction, and agreed that the state party had not done anything wrong in setting rules and deadlines for our internal elections.”
     “As we said all along, this lawsuit was purely political and in no way based in state law,” the party leaders said, adding with misplaced optimism that they look forward to a “smooth, efficiently run state convention this weekend.”
     The party called on its membership to unite as Democrats to defeat Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump in November.
     Las Vegas attorney Robert Kern, a Sanders supporter who sought the injunction as a plaintiff and as legal counsel, said his co-plaintiffs sought only to have the party abide by its own rules.

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