A pair of protest groups descended on the convention center Friday morning, April 11, to picket outside a medical convention, only to find that their target, former secretary of state and likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, was a no-show at the event after dodging a shoe thrown at her during a speech yesterday.
"Hillary canceled because she found out we were coming," explained Lynette Williams, who represents the Difference Matters, a group formed in February after word broke that Clinton was scheduled to speak in San Diego. Describing themselves as "a non-partisan, non-political group" online, the protesters are focused on a single issue — forcing Clinton to admit to conspiring in a plot to hide the truth about the 2012 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead.
Williams held a sign reading "What if it had been Chelsea?" while marching along with a group of about 30 others outside the convention-center entrance. A man in an older pickup plastered with bumper stickers denouncing the Obama administration towed a large billboard in a circle around the downtown area; the sign linked Clinton to the death of the men.
The mother of Sean Smith, one of the four who died in Benghazi, is active in the group, though health issues prevented her from attending the protest, Williams said.
Meanwhile, across the street, another group rallied in support of a government-funded universal health-care system to replace the increasingly unpopular Affordable Care Act, known by many as Obamacare.
Drive for Universal Healthcare picketers brought their own music — folksy tunes with lyrics including the oft-repeated refrain "Medicare for all!" flowed from a public address system and echoed off the glass-walled convention center across Harbor Drive. Demonstrators said their rally kicks off a weekend of activities promoting a "single payer" model, which includes two UCSD screenings of The Healthcare Movie, a documentary that examines and critiques the diverging paths the U.S. and Canada took when developing health models in the mid-20th Century.
"When we first came to the U.S. in 1992, Hillary was trying to get national health care; we were hearing people say things about Canada that were completely different from our experiences living there," said Laurie Simons, who produced the film with her husband Terry Sterrenberg and was attending the morning rally.
"In 2009, when the Affordable Care Act came around, we started hearing some of the same things," Simons continued, explaining her motivation to develop the film, which was first released in 2011 but is experiencing a resurgence due to the act's "individual mandate" being implemented this year. "We wanted Americans to get a view on what it's like in Canada, which is not what the propaganda campaigns have suggested.
"[One of the Benghazi protesters] just told me there are Canadians pouring across the border to get treatment [in Canada], and that's simply not true. Further, the idea that the government interferes in how doctors practice is completely false…you might have to wait for knee surgery, yes — but Canadians don't mind waiting if there's someone else with cancer that needs treatment right now."