With or without Philly permit, advocates for poor vow to protest as DNC opens

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Cheri Honkala

Cheri Honkala

A group of anti-poverty activists is vowing to march through downtown Philadelphia when the Democratic National Convention is in town, even though the city has denied its application for a permit to do so.

Longtime activist Cheri Honkala applied for the permit on behalf of her organization, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. 

At a press conference outside City Hall Tuesday, Honkala said more than 500 people from around the country will march from Broad Street to Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in South Philadelphia on the opening day of the convention — permit or no permit.

“Poor and homeless people, the last thing that we have is our voice, and they’re not going to take that away from us,” she said. 

City spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said Honkala’s request was rejected because the march would conflict with another event in the area. It would also require police to shut down South Broad Street during evening rush hour.

“Demonstrations are an important part of every convention, and we try to be as accommodating as possible to demonstrators,” said Hitt.

Jody Dodd of the Up Against the Law legal collective, which is working with protest groups to prepare for the DNC, called the city’s justification “fairly ludicrous.”

“Demonstrations have been cutting off traffic permitted or not for years now,” Dodd said. 

In a letter rejecting Honkala’s request, deputy managing director Jazelle Jones wrote that the city could not recommend alternatives, but would “welcome the submission of a revised application.”

Honkala said she is not planning to reapply and will hold the event, called the “March for Our Lives,” without a permit just as she did when Philadelphia hosted the Republican National Convention in 2000. 

So far, Philadelphia officials have received nine applications for demonstration permits. Only one has been granted to the anti-fracking group Food and Water Watch for a climate change march on Sunday, July 24, the day before the convention starts. Other applications are under review by the managing director’s office and the Philadelphia Police Department. 

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