Rallies, Marches And A 'Fart-In': Philadelphia Gets Ready For The DNC | KERA News

Rallies, Marches And A 'Fart-In': Philadelphia Gets Ready For The DNC

Jul 24, 2016
Originally published on July 24, 2016 11:47 am

The Democratic National Convention begins Monday in Philadelphia. As the party finishes last-minute preparations, protesters also are getting ready.

The city has approved 28 permits for rallies and marches. Name a cause and you can bet a protest for it is planned. Applicants range from an anti-gay church to the group "Black Men for Bernie."

To stand out, you have to be creative. That's why Cheri Honkala with the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign is gathering cases of donated beans in her office. She plans to feed them to protesters on the last night of the convention when Hillary Clinton accepts her party's nomination.

You could say her protest plan is a real gas.

"We thought that this process really stinks," Honkala says. "So we decided to organize a national fart-in." She doesn't like that only two political parties dominate American politics.

Most of the protest permits are held by people who wanted Bernie Sanders to become president.

Billy Taylor is a Sanders supporter who secured four of the six permits available for a park across from the arena where Democrats will meet.

Taylor works out of a run-down warehouse outside Philadelphia. "Bernie for President" signs are everywhere. Originally, volunteers wanted this to be a local Sanders campaign office, but now it houses a new group called Philly.fyi.

Taylor is the group's executive director. When he heard the city would make protest permits in the park available on a first-come-first-served basis, he booked everything possible — just in case the Sanders campaign wanted them.

"And there was another reason as well," he says. "I wanted to stop any Hillary supporters from obtaining permits."

The last time a big political party held its convention in Philadelphia was the year 2000, when Republicans nominated George W. Bush. Police were aggressive at the time. They infiltrated protest groups with undercover officers, arrested hundreds of people, and even raided a workshop where protesters built props for their marches.

Current Police Commissioner Richard Ross says this time will be different. "We don't really have an interest in criminalizing a bunch of people who are out peacefully protesting," he says.

Ross says the city is cooperating with protesters.

The city has also relaxed some of its ordinances — crimes like disorderly conduct will get a citation rather than an arrest. And Ross says officers will not show up in riot gear — as long as things remain peaceful.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ELISE HU, HOST:

The Democratic convention starts tomorrow in Philadelphia. And protesters, they're already gathering. The city has issued more than two dozen permits for rallies and marches. As NPR's Jeff Brady found, you name a cause and there will probably be a protest.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Permit applicants range from an anti-gay church to the group Black Men for Bernie. So you have to be creative to stand out. That's why Cheri Honkla with the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign is gathering some unusual supplies.

CHERI HONKALA: Bush's baked beans - we have kidney beans.

BRADY: There are cases of donated beans lined up in Honkala's office. She plans to feed them to protesters on the last night of the convention when Hillary Clinton accepts her party's nomination.

HONKALA: We thought that this process really stinks, so we decided to organize a national fart-in.

BRADY: Honkala doesn't like that only two political parties dominate American politics. Look at the city's list of protest permits, and most are held by people who wanted Bernie Sanders to become president. In fact, one Sanders supporter secured 4 of the 6 permits available for a park across from the arena where Democrats will meet. His name is Billy Taylor and he works out of a rundown warehouse outside Philadelphia.

BILLY TAYLOR: This is the room that we have all the volunteers in.

BRADY: There are Bernie for president signs everywhere. Taylor says the city made protest permits in the park available on a first-come-first-served basis.

TAYLOR: Once I heard that, I went out and I booked everything possible.

BRADY: And why did you want multiple permits?

TAYLOR: Oh, in case Sanders needed space, we'd have permits all for the Sanders campaign. And there was another reason as well. I wanted to stop any Hillary supporters from obtaining permits.

BRADY: The last time a big political party held its convention in Philadelphia was the year 2000 when Republicans nominated George W. Bush. Police were aggressive back then. They infiltrated protest groups with undercover officers, arrested hundreds of people and even raided a workshop where protesters built props for their marches. This convention, Police Commissioner Richard Ross says the city will cooperate with protesters.

RICHARD ROSS: We don't really have an interest in criminalizing a bunch of people who are out peacefully protesting.

BRADY: The city has relaxed some of its ordinances. Crimes like disorderly conduct will get a citation rather than an arrest. And Ross says officers will not show up in riot gear as long as things remain peaceful. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.