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Occupy movement takes on the Democratic National Convention

Dani Long, 51, of Florida, left, and Sonya

Dani Long, 51, of Florida, left, and Sonya Montenegro, 32, of Portland, Ore., camp out at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in Philadelphia on Wednesday, July 27, 2016. The two are Bernie Sanders supporters who made their way to the city for the Democratic National Convention. Credit: Elaine Piniat

PHILADELPHIA - All they need is food and The Bern.

The Democratic National Convention has provided a new forum for the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has made camp at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in Philadelphia under the name Occupy Philly. Dozens of people -- Bernie Sanders supporters who do not support Hillary Clinton -- have brought tents and sleeping bags to the park, just blocks away from Wells Fargo Center where the Democratic National Convention is taking place.

"We're all in this together," said Sonya Montenegro, 32, of Portland, who joined a group of four caravans of strangers in Seattle.

The global Occupy Wall Street movement started in 2011 when protesters took over Zuccotti Park in Manhattan's financial district. This iteration of the movement believe the Democratic nomination belongs to Sanders and does not consider the DNC roll call vote as legitimate, according to the group's website.

Some Occupy supporters have been camping out in the park since Sunday. Camping in the park is illegal but the city has not enforced the law.

"We just relaxed a little," said a captain with the Philadelphia police department, who declined to give his name. "They haven't given us any trouble."

The park is stocked with portable toilets and hoses -- for "showers." Food and drinks have been provided.

The Occupy website also calls for "comrades" to join the movement and work together "to shut down the convention and the manipulations of capitalism and racism found in our government and day to day lives."

"I came to learn how to be a better prepared activist," said Dani Long, 51, of Florida. She flew in on Sunday.

Montenegro said when she started following Bernie Sanders, she had "familial" feelings toward him. She "admires" his 40-year record in helping the downtrodden.

"I haven't been through that many presidents in my lifetime, but I've been really unimpressed by politics," she said.

Long, who is currently unemployed, said she had breast cancer at a time when she didn't have health insurance. She recalled having to make life and death decisions, writing cashier's checks before receiving chemotherapy.

Long has been following Sanders for about seven years and admires his integrity, she said. "His message doesn't change."

"This movement isn't finished," she said. "It's really not about Bernie. We need to stop talking about Bernie."

George Carlyon, 25, of Gainesville, Florida, agrees.

"We don't need a Christ," he said. "We need to know it's us."

Carlyon, who works as a skilled builder, has been camping out since Monday. He participated in the Occupy movement years ago, and referred to the current rally as "pro peace."

Neither Montenegro, Long or Carlyon plan to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Montenegro is leaning toward voting for Jill Stein, the Green Party's presumptive nominee for president.

Carlyon said he officially became a Green Party voter on Tuesday night, when Sanders conceded.

"If we don't stop this, we might be done for," he said of the current state of politics in the United States. "Is our species even going to survive?"


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