Bernie Sanders

Saturday, March 9, 2019
Des Moines
Bird Dogs: Kathy Byrnes, Sam Kuhn, Adrianne Erickson, Blake Erickson, Kari Noble, Todd Steichen, Jennie Erwin, Lysa Fisk, Marty Monroe, Brenda Milligan

Bold Iowa signs on display during Bernie Sanders’ Des Moines rally, March 9, 2019

Our squad of climate bird doggers wasn’t intimidated by the Sanders campaign’s decision to prohibit signs. Our message of urgency on the climate crisis is simply too important to be silenced. When Sanders began to talk climate in the middle of his speech (see video below, through the 47:46 mark), the signs came out. At one point, Sanders looked right at us and then appeared to go off script, comparing the lies spread by the fossil-fuel industry to the lies spread by big tobacco companies. At his Des Moines rally, Sanders talked about climate change for nearly twice as long as he did in Iowa City and Council Bluffs, and we suspect the presence of our signs had everything to do with it.

Sanders platform on climate change is both strong and genuine. Yet we’re disappointed that climate doesn’t receive top billing in his platform. The issues he addresses are important, critical even. But none of them will matter if our leaders don’t prioritize the gravest existential crisis humanity has ever faced.

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Thursday, March 7, 2019
Council Bluffs
Bird Dog: Melanie Williams-Smotherman

Melanie Williams-Smotherman (r) and Michelle Free-Lamere (l)

After announcing his decision to run for president, Bernie Sanders held his first Iowa rally. We prepared signs reading “Be Bold on Climate” and “Climate is a Crisis.” The plan was for volunteers to hold them up when Sanders spoke about climate.

We were surprised to learn that signs wouldn’t be allowed. “The staff told us explicitly that no homemade signs were allowed,” wrote Melanie, who also volunteers with the Sanders campaign. “The coordinator explained that it’s unfortunate, but they’ve been burned by allowing what they thought were supportive messages, only to have those signs turned around to display damaging messages.”

Ed Fallon said, “Sanders talks about the climate crisis in strong terms, and I’m happy to see that. But it’s disturbing that his campaign refuses to let voters express their views and creativity with signs — even supportive signs. I understand the risk, but it’s better to error on the side of the First Amendment than to stifle positive creative messaging from the grassroots.”