Hawaii DNC delegate 'not sorry' about making obscene gesture on TV

Published: Jul. 27, 2016 at 11:49 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 27, 2016 at 10:52 PM HST
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(Image: CBS)
(Image: CBS)
(Image: Chelsea Lyons Kent/Facebook)
(Image: Chelsea Lyons Kent/Facebook)
(Image: Chelsea Lyons Kent/Facebook)
(Image: Chelsea Lyons Kent/Facebook)

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii delegate is defending her decision to make an obscene gesture on national television during the Hawaii roll call vote at Tuesday's Democratic National Convention.

Delegate Chelsea Lyons Kent was seen on national TV sticking up her middle finger when the votes for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were announced.

"My intention 100 percent was to flip the bird to the DNC," Kent said by phone.

"When the opportunity came and it was not planned and there was no one else involved, I flipped the finger to the DNC because the DNC had flipped the finger to us since day one and it was about time that somebody flipped it back."

The U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders supporter defied her own candidate by refusing to be respectful and quiet while Clinton was chosen as the nominee.

After the incident, her convention credentials were revoked.

But the images of Lyons making the obscene gesture have been circulated widely, generating both anger and support.

Gov. David Ige, who described Clinton's nomination for president as historic and electrifying, says the incident is not reflective of Hawaii's spirit of aloha.

"Both the Hillary supporters as well as Bernie supporters were outraged by the gesture," he said. "It truly was unfortunate that the gesture is not representative of all the work that has been done by the Hawai'i delegation here at this convention."

Other Sanders supporters say they were especially embarrassed and offended because they felt Kent's choice hurt their efforts to spread Sanders' message.

"I personally understand her frustration as to what is going on, but that was not the appropriate way to express it," said state Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, whose district includes Puna.

Dylan Hooser, a pledged Bernie Sanders Hawaii delegate, said the moment was supposed to be special.

"It was ruined a little bit," he said. "I strongly support the right to protest and the freedom of speech, but there's a time and a place. And I don't think that was it."

The chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii says officials agreed to revoke Kent's floor pass for the evening and gave her the chance to apologize in exchange for being allowed to attend the rest of the convention, but she refused. That's when Kent was removed from the delegation.

"It was quite frankly immature and ridiculous. Very unfortunate. And overshadowed what has been an excellent convention so far," said Tim Vandeever, the Democratic Party of Hawaii chairman.

Meanwhile, Kent stands by her decision and says she's not the only Sanders supporter whose DNC credentials were revoked.

"We are still told to sit in our seats and achieve unity, but Hillary Clinton is not the candidate I chose and she's not the candidate that I feel good about supporting in good conscience," she said.

"The American people are sick of being offered the choice of a lesser between two evils. Bernie Sanders was the only candidate who was not the lesser of two evils, so you cannot tell us to sit down quietly while you give us these two options."

Kent says she will not vote for Clinton or Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. It's unclear what her role in the Hawaii Democratic Party will be moving forward.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.