The chaos that ensued at last weekend’s Nevada Democratic Convention continues to be a point of contention among Democrats and Bernie Sanders supporters, particularly on the question of whether chairs were thrown. While several eyewitnesses reported seeing chairs thrown, Sanders supporters have pointed to a 30-second video of a man holding a chair aloft, then not throwing it, as evidence those witnesses are lying. A review of video previously not broadcast could explain how both sides are sort of right.
The video being distributed via social media is described by Sanders supporters as “guy picks chair up, puts it down, they HUG it out,” but lengthier video of the incident, taken from other angles, tells a different story. In the video below, featuring two different synchronized angles and lengthier context, you can see that just before the man enters the frame, something is thrown from the back of the room, then the man brandishing the chair comes into the frame clearly advancing toward the stage for at least four strides, before he is prevented from throwing the chair by another man. It’s unclear if anyone was hit by the chair in the struggle, but you can also clearly see someone wound up on the floor, being helped up a few seconds after:
Seconds before and after the man advances toward the stage brandishing the chair, you can hear the loud metallic sounds of the Sanders supporters slamming the barrier into the floor as they rush the stage. At least three of the eyewitnesses cited were on that stage, so imagine you’re onstage and you’re greeted by these sights and sounds, synchronized from three different angles:
You’re onstage with all of that screaming and profanity and running and jumping, people are already rushing the barrier, something comes flying from the back of the room, and you see a guy coming at you with a chair raised over his head. If you looked away for a second to avoid getting hit, and heard the sounds of the barrier being slammed, you might reasonably perceive, in the heat of that moment, that the chair was thrown. You look back and see people helping someone up off the floor. The metallic noises continue.
It’s also still possible that the folks onstage did see something like chair-throwing or flipping that wasn’t caught on camera. I watched a few hours worth of video from different angles at about the same time, and there isn’t a lot of coverage at the back of the ballroom, where the projectile came from. From what’s available, though, there aren’t indications of commotion that would attend chair-based aggression.
As for the way the incidents were reported, Sanders supporters were right to object to journalists who used the term “violence,” but the behavior that has been documented was clearly threatening and intimidating to the people it was directed at, even if it wasn’t intended that way.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.