The Republican National Convention is now behind us without the threatened shut down and with minimal violence. There are a lot of theories as to why the RNC protests failed to bring in the numbers of demonstrators anticipated. My theory is that the Black Lives Matter organization and the New Black Panther Party stood down because of the recent police officer shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge. A significant number of the Black Lives Matter movement membership does not want any association with the targeted killing of police officers. MoveOn.org also stood down. It is unclear why. Organizers of some of the rallies and marches said fears of violence kept many people away. The most active protest organization, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RevCom.us), did everything they could to stir up the crowds, including an attack on Alex Jones from Infowars, and a flag burning that went horribly wrong, injuring 4 and resulting in the arrest of 18 of their members.
The real hero of the Republican National Convention was Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. He was on the ground directing activities at virtually every hot spot. On Friday, he got a phone call from Donald Trump, who personally wanted to thank him.
“I was just calling the chief to say what a great job he did, he’s more famous than I am because I think he got more television time than I did.”
“You should all be very, very proud of yourselves and Calvin has done amazing. So I just want to thank all of you for the great job you’ve done.”
Trump added that he doesn’t think the police in Philadelphia, where the Democratic National Convention is, will do as great of a job.
Philadelphia and the DNC
Philadelphia is the nation’s fifth largest city, much larger than Cleveland. Philadelphia is also at the center of all major East coast transportation routes linking New York City, Baltimore and Washington, DC. Mayor Jim Kenney is optimistic that the Democratic National Convention will be as uneventful as the RNC while allowing the protesters to express their concerns.
“Obviously the destruction of property or hurting someone is a non-starter, but you can be as angry and loud as you want to be,” Mayor Kenney said.
At the RNC in Cleveland, protesters were restricted to a 1.7 mile radius protest area. In Philadelphia, protests are planned at the park directly adjoining the Wells Fargo Center all the way to the densely populated downtown areas four miles away. Philadelphia is expecting 50,000 protesters each day of the convention. Activists have said they expect about 100,000. The city has developed an interactive map of the permitted protest areas and planned events available here.
In Philadelphia, thousands of protesters are planning to rally at a park near the Wells Fargo Center throughout the convention. Many other protest organizations plan to start their marches at City Hall, four miles north. Most plan to leave from City Hall and travel to the park on Broad Street — a major north-south artery that links downtown with the convention site. Several permitted marches are back-to-back, on Broad Street and streets near Independence Hall. Other rallies are set for various plazas and parks around downtown. And those are just demonstrations with permits. The U.S. Secret Service, in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, has developed a strict transportation plan that is available here.
A large number of Philadelphia demonstrators are anticipated to be Bernie Sanders supporters who plan to de-register from the Democratic Party if he isn’t made the nominee.
The Sanders campaign had planned to hold an up to 40,000-person rally in Philadelphia on Sunday, but its permit was denied. According to the Philadelphia mayor’s office, Ashburn Field, where the event would have been held, “has not been opened for expressive activity to the general public.”
The Sanders campaign is keeping a tight lid on the specifics of Monday’s events and won’t say how long the senator will stay at the Democratic convention. Sanders is expected to use the convention meeting to talk about the next steps of the political movement that its adherents affectionately call “the revolution.”
With the recent WikiLeaks release of emails alluding to the vetting and control of Black Lives Matter leadership to be leveraged by the DNC during the primaries and elections, it is not clear if the Black Lives Matter movement will have any significant presence in Philadelphia. These leaks have generated significant trust issues within the movement.
Please review my previous articles on the protests planned for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions for additional information: