Activists: We’ll March on DNC, Not Just in a Pen at FDR Park

A group of protesters gathered today to tell the city to grant them permits to protest the DNC—as they plan to do it, no matter what.

Protesters - DNC plan

A group of activists detail their plans for marches and other protests during the Democratic National Convention next month. | Photo by Dan McQuade

They’re planning a march from North Philly down Broad Street. They’re planning to assail the politicians in town during the Democratic National Convention. They’re even planning a “Clintonville.” And if they’re arrested, they plan to fight back.

Today, the Philly Coalition for REAL (Racial, Economic and Legal) Justice, in coalition with other local lefty groups, held a press event on the steps of the city building at 1515 Arch Street. A full lineup of speakers said that, permits or no, they would be marching and protesting at the DNC next month.

Erica Mines, who made national headlines in April when she verbally sparred with Bill Clinton over the 1994 crime bill at an event in Mt. Airy, led today’s press conference.

“We cannot allow this political moment to be whitewashed like the Occupy movement,” Mines said. “We, as black and brown people, we must unify again in solidarity with one another. We must capitalize off of this moment with one goal in mind, and that is to resist the racist and capitalist power structure that allow white supremacy and capitalist oppression to flourish.”

Mines announced a series of demands activists are making of the city. Those protesting today want protests allowed in front of the convention site at the Wells Fargo Center and not just in a “pen” at FDR Park, want rush hour protests allowed during the DNC, and don’t want protesters jailed during the convention. Also, Democrats are in the process of raising about $64 million for the DNC; protesters would rather see that money go to public schools.

“What we would like to say to the city is this: This is already costing the city $60 million,” Jody Dodd of the Up Against the Law Legal Collective said. “If you don’t want it to cost another $60 million in court costs and lawyers fighting you … you can do the right thing. Let people march. Let people demonstrate. Don’t arrest anyone. That would be the smartest move you could make.”

Mines and Dodd were two of almost a dozen speakers on Tuesday. Cheri Honkala, who last week sued the city over the denial of her protest permit for a march on the opening day of the convention, said today she and her group would march with or without a permit.

“If you’re independent of the Democratic Party, you don’t have the right to say a damn thing in this city,” Honkala said. “Something is wrong with that. And so, we are going to set up a Clintonville. Because, you know what, we think it’s important to accommodate not just the protesters that are coming into town, but the homeless people who haven’t been able to find a damn place to sleep for the last nine months. We think them having some place to sleep is just as important as the protesters!”

Scott Williams, of the Workers World party, announced a “Shut Down the DNC” march from Broad and Diamond to City Hall, and then to the Wells Fargo Center on the second day of the convention, July 26th, at 2 p.m. They have not received a permit, but plan to march no matter what.

“The Democratic Party,” Williams said. “This is the party of slavery, of Jim Crow, of genocide of Native Americans. This is the party of Japanese internment, of dropping a nuclear bomb, of the Vietnam War, cuts to welfare, and also the party that’s run this city into the ground and destroyed the lives of millions of black and Latino people. We are here to expose them.”

Also speaking were Asa Khalif, the cousin of Brandon Tate Brown—who was killed by Philadelphia police in December of 2014—and Delphine Matthews, mother of Frank McQueenwho was killed by Chester police in June of 2014.

They all had the same message for Philly police and DNC organizers: Do not expect a hassle-free convention in Philadelphia this summer.

“You can no longer control black and brown bodies—we are done with it,” said Shani Akilah of the Black and Brown Workers Collective. “Hillary Clinton is a mass murderer. People wanted to know why, as black people, how could we not support Hillary Clinton? Hillary Clinton is a fascist … Clinton came to Haiti and made sure that the same regime that was killing our people stayed in power.”

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