Protesters to shine DNC spotlight on health care, energy, political art at Independence Mall

    Independence Hall in Philadelphia (Emma Lee/WHYY

    Independence Hall in Philadelphia (Emma Lee/WHYY

    The protest scene at Independence Mall is shaping up to be more classroom than confrontation.

    With lofty-sounding themes including “Shut Down the DNC!” and “Black DNC Resistance Against Police Terrorism and State Repression,” some activists seeking city permits to march during next month’s Democratic National Convention seem ready to rumble.

    Still, the protest scene at Independence Mall is shaping up to be more classroom than confrontation.

    The National Park Service has received nine “First Amendment requests” for the convention, which runs July 25-28, including a collection of 13 public art panels showing pivotal events in this century’s presidential races, a “Truth Booth” by the Philadelphia Mural Arts program and Cause Collective, a Citizens for Health display on the Affordable Care Act, and (something unusual for a Philadelphia summer) an ice sculpture display called “The American Dream,” according to Andrew McDougall, a National Park Service spokesman.

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    The mall also will host a Bernie Sanders rally on July 23, expected to draw 3,000 people, McDougall added. And the March for Clean Energy Revolution, in which 5,000 people will march July 24 from City Hall, will end at Independence Mall, he said.

    Throughout it all, MSNBC will broadcast live from the lawn next to the Independence Visitors’ Center during the convention.

    The park service requires permits for groups that plan to gather more than 25 people, McDougall said.

    “We never say no to a First Amendment request, and the Park Service is always content-neutral when it comes to processing First Amendment requests,” McDougall said.

    Any groups that can’t fit in the mall will be placed near the Second Bank of the United States (between Fourth and Fifth, and Walnut and Chestnut streets), he added.

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