So you want to demonstrate at the DNC? You're in good company, the city is expecting some 50,000 protesters. Here are some things to know before marching.
After the ACLU wrote a letter to Mayor Kenney seeking clarity on how protesters would be treated during the Convention, the city responded to Inquirer requests for answers. The full letter the ACLU submitted is available here. They city's answers – and some leave room for interpretation – are below.
Q: Will protesters without permits be arrested?
Mayor Kenney: Probably not but again we encourage them to get a permit; we're not looking to arrest anyone. This is the birthplace of liberty and the birthplace of the First Amendment and we expect people to be able to express themselves as loud and as long as they want just as long as people don't get hurt and property doesn't' get damaged we're all good.
Note: The city has taken steps to decriminalize numerous infractions, like refusal to disperse, ahead of the DNC, as well as promised to make water, restrooms and misting tents available at FDR Park for protesters.
Q: Will the city issue any permits for marches and demonstrations on Broad Street?
City spokeswoman Lauren Hitt: We evaluate each permit on a case by case basis but there will not be a blanket ban on demonstrations on Broad Street.
Q: Will permits be issued during rush hour?
Hitt: Not in Center City. It would impede the travel of ambulances and other public safety vehicles, and we won't have a sufficient number of public safety personnel available to protect demonstrators and non-participants from traffic related hazards.
Q: Will the city allow people to remain in FDR park overnight during the convention?
Hitt: The closing time of the park has been extended until 10:00pm from July 24th – July 28th to accommodate protestors, but we are not permitting for camping, due to health and safety concerns for prospective campers. We will respectfully ask those who attempt to camp in FDR to relocate. Many demonstration groups have already communicated to the City that they intend to stay at camping grounds in Southern New Jersey.
Q: Will law enforcement personnel from non-Philadelphia agencies (like the state police) be subject to Philadelphia Police policies? Specifically, the city's policy against infiltration of protest groups?
Hitt: State and federal law enforcement agencies are not legally bound by the PPD's policies, however, given that we are working in coordination with these groups we don't expect them to stray outside the scope.
Q: Will the city commit to ensuring protesters are visible from the Wells Fargo Center and not use opaque fencing?
Secret Service Spokesman Robert Hoback: We wouldn't give too many specifics regarding size, features etc...but I can tell you the fencing we have chosen will not impair the vision of the protesters with regard to the venue/Wells Fargo Center.
Q: Will the city suspend its ordinance prohibiting camping so there can be some designated area of the city where protesters can spend the night without risking arrest?
Hitt: We are not permitting for camping, due to health and safety concerns for prospective campers. We will respectfully ask those who attempt to camp in FDR to relocate. Many demonstration groups have already communicated to the City that they intend to stay at camping grounds in Southern New Jersey.