Protest City 2
Twitter via @BasSlabbers/Instagram via @phillymayor/City of Philadelphia

Protesting the DNC in Philly: What we know today

Update: July 22, 11 a.m.

The Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia will be a magnet for protests. These political conventions always are. Philadelphia is preparing for tens of thousands of protesters, and activists are pursuing more opportunities to get their messages out.

Last month, for instance, Mayor Jim Kenney signed a bill decriminalizing protest-type offenses like disorderly conduct. Meanwhile, the ACLU is pushing back against what it considers attempts by the city to stifle free speech by not approving certain protest permits.

Here’s a rundown of everything we know so far about protesting as it pertains to the DNC:

38 requests for protests have been made, 27 have been approved

DNC Protest Permit Breakdown

OrganizationTheme of ProtestLocation of ProtestExpected number of participantsDate and TimeApproval Status
Food & Water WatchMarch for Clean EnergyMarket St. from City Hall to Independence Mall5,000July 24, 1-5 p.m.Approved
Billy TaylorMarch for Bernie at the DNCFDR Park30,000July 24-July 28Approved
Billy TaylorMarch for BernieThomas Paine Plaza3,000July 24, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.Approved
Jill Stein for PresidentPower Rally for Jill SteinFDR Park300July 25, 5-8 p.m.Approved
Austin BryanSupport Rally for Bernie SandersMarconi Plaza500-600July 25, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.Approved
PFTPFT Contract DemonstrationMarconi Plaza1,000July 25, 5-7 p.m.Approved
Billy TaylorMarch for BernieThomas Paine Plaza3,000July 26, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.Approved
Black Men for BernieWe the People Restoration RallyThomas Paine Plaza2,000July 27-28, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.Approved
Ammi MinistryAmmi Ministry OutreachArch Street (NS) from Broad to 12th; Market Street (NS) from Broad to 11th (Sidewalks)2-3 per locationJuly 23, July 25-28, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.Approved
Bernie Sanders SupportersBernie Sanders Rally/MarchMarch from City Hall down Broad to the stadiums5,000-15,000July 25, Noon-3 p.m.Approved
Gail MayerCandlelight Vigil to Commemorate the Death of DemocracyFDR Park8,000July 25, 8 p.m.-MidnightApproved
Philly REAL JusticeBlack DNC Resistance MarchMarch from Broad and Diamond to Dilworth Park300-500July 26, 3-4 p.m.Approved
International Action CenterShut Down the DNC RallyDilworth Park2,000July 26, 4-5 p.m.Withdrawn
Philly REAL JusticeBlack DNC Resistance Against Police Terrorism and State Repression1300 Diamond Street300-500July 26, 2-3 p.m.Approved
International Action CenterShut Down the DNC MarchMarch from City Hall down Broad to Pattinson Avenue2,000July 26, 5-8 p.m.Approved
International Action CenterShut Down the DNC RallyThomas Paine Plaza2,000July 26, 4-5 p.m.Approved
Occupy DNCRally, March and Bernie in the ParkSouth Broad between FDR Park and the Wells Fargo Center with a march on nearby streets20,000-plusJuly 27-28, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.Approved
Bernie 2016, Inc.Bernie 2016 Future to Believe in RallyFDR Park15,000-40,000July 24, 12:30-11:59 p.m.Denied
Equality Coalition for Bernie SandersProtest march based on unfair treatment of candidates by the DNCMarch from City Hall down Broad to the stadiums200July 25, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.Denied
Poor People's Economic Human Rights CampaignMarch to end homelessness in AmericaMarch from City Hall down Broad to FDR Park500July 25, 2-6 p.m.Approved
Global ZeroRace to Zero (end to nuclear weapons)FDR Park/Marconi Plaza200July 25-28Denied
Unitarian Society of GermantownPublic Gathering of Unitarian Universalists to Support BLMIndependence Mall500-1,000July 24, 2-6 p.m.Returned
Ligorano ReeseThe American Dream ProjectCity Hall Courtyard/Thomas Paine Plaza100-200July 25, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.Withdrawn
Black Men For BernieThe Day AfterThomas Paine Plaza2,000July 29, 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.Approved
The Markham GroupNuns on the BusFairmount Park200July 29, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.Approved
Andrew GeliebterConscious ConvergenceMarconi Plaza250July 26-28Approved
Trump for PARally in Support of Donald TrumpMarconi Plaza50-100July 26-28Approved
Westboro Baptist ChurchReligious DemonstrationFDR Park10July 26-27Approved
Americans for Responsible Solutions PACCeasefire PA RallyLogan Square100-200July 26, 9:30-11:30 a.m.Approved
N/AInterfaith prayer circleThomas Paine Plaza50-400July 25-28 Approved
Laurie CestnickBernie RallyMarconi Plaza5,000July 25, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.Approved
Andrea RomigMock Trial for Hillary ClintonFDR Park 100July 25, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.Approved
Andrew GeliebterConscious ConvergenceChew Playground250July 25-28Denied
Unitarian Society of GermantownBLM gatheringIndependence Hall National Park500-1,000July 24, 2-6 p.m.Withdrawn
Foreclosure Registers, Inc.Rally for homeownersCenter City, Wells Fargo Center5July 25-27Withdrawn
N/ASupport for Bernie SandersMarconi Plaza500-600July 26, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.Withdrawn
Andrew GeliebterConscious ConvergenceRittenhouse Square250July 25-28Pending

The FDR Park zone

The biggest approved protests for the DNC will be in FDR Park, which is west of the parking lots outside Wells Fargo Center. Activists have criticized being mostly relegated to a place so far from Center City and barely within view of the Wells Fargo Center’s front door. It’s common for cities with similar events to create these “free speech zones,” and the ACLU and other advocacy groups oppose them.  

Thursday, the city released a map of how FDR Park will be set up for the protests. There are six designated zones, and road closures throughout the area, including Pattinson Avenue from Seventh to 20th streets.

Protest Map FDR Park
City of Philadelphia

Protesters are not allowed to spend the night in FDR Park. The latest they can stay is 10 p.m.

No more Broad Street limitations and the settled lawsuit

Broad Street has long been a favorite location for protests and rallies, from decades ago to the Black Lives Matter and Fight for 15 marches of recent years. But the city was at first limiting activity on this street during the DNC.

Lauren Hitt, Mayor Jim Kenney’s communications director, told Billy Penn last week there was no sweeping ban on marching on Broad Street outside of Center City. She said protests on Broad Street would be banned during rush hour, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The ACLU has claimed the city has been unclear with its Broad Street policies and argued it doesn’t intend to grant any permits for Broad Street marches.   

The ACLU filed a lawsuit against Philadelphia for refusing to grant a permit for a Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign march. The group’s request to march down Broad Street was denied in May. The same thing happened in 2000, and Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign marched anyway.

On July 1, the city announced it would settle the lawsuit and allow the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign to march.

“We had a sense that even if we didn’t permit during rush hour, there would be people who demonstrated in Center City anyway, so better to encourage them to get a permit,” Hitt told the Inquirer. “That way, we can still better manage demonstrations that are permitted, and minimize disruptions to surrounding businesses and residents if we know they’re coming.”

Why Philly will be feeling the Bern

As you likely noticed above, six of the eight approved rallies center on supporting Bernie Sanders or, in the case of Black Men for Bernie, at least have a connection.

Sanders supporter Billy Taylor has secured four week-long permits for DNC Park (sections one through four on the above map) and is expected to hold Sanders rallies with turnout expected at 30,000, according to the city. Some Sanders groups expect the number of Bernie supporters who descend on DNC to be far larger. Sanders’ campaign has been coordinating with Taylor, and Sanders may hold a traditional rally in FDR Park.

On top of all that, a group called DC to DNC is organizing a 10-day march from Washington D.C. to the Wells Fargo Center in support of Sanders. For a convention that’s about awarding the nomination to Hillary Clinton, there’s going to be plenty of Bernie flavor.

Holmesburg prison

The city changed its mind regarding Holmesburg prison. This facility, which has been closed since 1995, was used to house arrested protesters in 2000, and that was originally the city’s plan for this year. But one week after Billy Penn first reported the prison would be used if needed, the city announced it would not be housing any arrested protesters there.

Kenney’s bill that could lead to fewer protester arrests

The mayor signed a bill this week decriminalizing nuisance offenses such as disorderly conduct. If followed properly, police would issue fines rather than arrest protesters.

Attorney Larry Krasner was heavily involved in working with protesters during 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Back then, more than 400 people were arrested. He said he’s skeptical of the new bill, which makes similar promises of not arresting people.

“Having heard them say they won’t arrest people last time,” said Krasner, “and having them say it now, ‘show me.’”

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