Sanders challenges explanation for event cancellation

An MSNBC town hall-style gathering scheduled to take place in a military armory in West Virginia with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was unexpectedly canceled after the National Guard deemed it too political an event for the space.

The cancellation, first reported by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, led Sanders to blast off a statement pledging to visit the state one way or another.

Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders. File Photo by Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner
“If anyone in West Virginia government thinks that I will be intimidated from going to McDowell County, West Virginia, to hold a town meeting, they are dead wrong,” he wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. “If they don’t allow us to use the local armory, we’ll find another building. If we can’t find another building, we’ll hold the meeting out in the streets. That town meeting will be held. Poverty in America will be discussed. Solutions will be found.”

The National Guard cited various Department of Defense statutes in explaining its decision to cancel the event. One 2005 department rule mandates that “installations shall not engage in, nor allow their tenant activities to engage in, activities that could be interpreted as associating the installation with any partisan political causes, issues, or candidates.”

However, according to the Gazette-Mail, the state has allowed political events at National Guard armories in the past. They include campaign events featuring former Republican President George H.W. Bush and former Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Sanders said the event had been scheduled for weeks, and he questioned the cancellation.

“Yesterday, I was informed that someone in the West Virginia state government made a last minute decision to cancel MSNBC’s use of a National Guard armory that Chris Hayes and I were going to use to hold a town meeting in McDowell County, West Virginia,” he wrote on Facebook. “The arrangements had been agreed to several weeks before and hundreds of people in the area had signed up to attend the meeting that was going to be broadcast on Chris’s show.”

Sanders trounced Hillary Clinton in West Virginia’s presidential primary, 51 percent to 36 percent. In the runup to the primary, Sanders held a forum on poverty in McDowell County, which is one of the most impoverished parts of the country.

If you read us, please support us.

Comment Policy

VTDigger.org requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer.

We moderate every comment. Please go to our FAQ for the full policy.

Jasper Craven

About Jasper

Jasper Craven is VTDigger’s political reporter. A Vermont native, he first discovered his love for journalism at the Caledonian Record. He double-majored in print journalism and political science at Boston University, and worked in the Boston Globe’s Metro and Investigative units. While at the Globe he collaborated on Shadow Campus, a three-part investigative series focused on greed and mismanagement in Boston’s off-campus student housing market. The series was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize.
He also spent two years at MuckRock, a news sited dedicated to investigation and analysis of government documents. 

Craven covered Vermont’s U.S. Congressional delegation for the Times Argus in the summer of 2014, and worked as a Metro reporter for the Chicago Tribune before joining the staff of VTDigger.

Email: [email protected]

Follow Jasper on Twitter @Jasper_Craven

Latest stories by Jasper

Recent Stories

Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Sanders challenges explanation for event cancellation"
  • Louis Meyers, M.D.

    If Bernie wants to combat poverty he is always welcome to come back to his home state. We have plenty of poverty here and he will be treated with more respect than he was in West Virginia.

  • Stephen Trahan

    Never mind town meetings in West Virginia, how about coming to town meetings in Vermont. Bernie is already running for President in 2020. He needs to stick to the needs of Vermonters.

  • The Bernie quote in the story encapsulates why he beat Clinton and why he would have trounced Trump. Short, simple and clear and exactly how he feels. He must be burning about Trump and what might have been.

  • Paul Richards

    Maybe he and Milo Yiannopoulos can get together and debate why and how debates get shut down.

    • Phil Greenleaf

      Thanks Paul – it’s obvious you are pointing out what you perceive to be more liberal hypocrisy. It might be a worthy point- except as usual you fail to recognize the gigantic differences between the 2 events, the two primary speakers, the venues (pretty much everything). Hope your knee didn’t do any damage when it jerked. Now you can settle in and examine why fringe elements (like Milo) that have crawled out of exile spewing venom might not be worthy guests. Bernie on the other hand keeps his venom in check and obviously is a well respected main stream figure. More later. Peace out.

      • Paul Richards

        Thanks Phil but you are giving me way more credit for knowing who Milo is than deserved so your assumptions are way off. All I know is that a conservative group at a ultra liberal university attempted to have a speaker come in and was shut down by a mob of liberal thugs who were allowed to destroy property and beat people up to get their way and shut down the event. Law enforcement was told to stand down and allow these people to continue their tantrum and to squelch the constitutional rights of others. Essentially the same thing happened in Baltimore and elsewhere. It does not matter who the speaker is, it matters that people were allowed to infringe upon others constitutional rights. This is the government selecting who has and who does not have constitutional protections. It’s called tyranny. Cheers

        • Phil Greenleaf

          Paul – It’s pretty hard to accept that you don’t “know who Milo is” when you have now mentioned him in context with Bernie and listed great detail of the Berkley event and referenced others. In this case you should drop the false pretense of civil libertarian and recognize what you are trying to assert. In case you haven’t realized it there are limitations on 1st amendment rights when it comes to the type of targeted hate speech that Milo serially utilizes. He is essentially a traveling harassment show working for Breitbart using words “…of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality” US Supreme Court 1942. Technically it’s debatable but morally it isn’t even close. Speech of that type is as close as someone can come to burning a cross and campus authorities have a duty to protect students from blatant targeted hate speech. There was such a trail of protest and violence across the country that it was a bad decision to even permit this crackpot in the first place. The UCB faculty asked the administration to cancel the event. In hindsight they should have been looking to prevent injury to Milo as well as his words clearly “…by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” If he was working as a comedian or if this was an issue of legitimate discourse, political or academic debate you might have a case but this guy (as you well know) is just an operative provoking (successfully) violent response. He’s a paid demagogue.

          Now – just who are these tyrants you mention? In this case you seem to be seeing them everywhere. Right wingers in West Virginia, a mob in Berkley. Who else Paul? Is it the government? Is it a liberal media conspiracy? Commenters on Disqus? Twitter? If only!