PHILADELPHIA - The ACLU of Pennsylvania announced today that the city of Philadelphia has reversed its earlier stance and will grant a permit to the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) for its march on Broad Street during the Democratic National Convention. In addition to issuing PPEHRC’s permit, the city has also agreed to permanently eliminate its blanket ban on marches during afternoon “rush hour,” which it defined as 3 – 6 p.m.
The permit was granted for the time and locations originally requested. A spokesperson for the city recently stated incorrectly that PPEHRC had agreed to change the start time of its march.
“Nothing has changed. We will assemble on the south side of Broad Street and march at 3 p.m., as we requested. I hope that now the city will turn its attention to the poverty in our city,” said Cheri Honkala, head of the PPEHRC, a social justice organization dedicated to ending poverty.
The city had initially denied PPEHRC’s application for a permit to march from City Hall to the Wells Fargo Center on July 25, citing among its reasons its unwritten policy of banning protest marches during rush hour. The city now says it will evaluate each permit request on a case-by-case basis.
The city of Philadelphia’s agreement resulted from a federal lawsuit the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed on June 23, 2016, challenging the city’s denial of PPEHRC’s permit. In its complaint, plaintiffs had noted that the city routinely authorizes extended street closures on Center City streets during this time on weekdays for other activities, such as victory parades, block parties, and restaurant events.
“This is a victory for not only our clients but for the First Amendment,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “We appreciate the city of Philadelphia’s willingness to reconsider its position and to make Philadelphia a place where all voices can be heard during the DNC.”
PPEHRC is represented by Mary Catherine Roper and Molly Tack-Hooper of the ACLU-PA and Seth Kreimer of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
A copy of the original complaint is available here: www.aclupa.org/PPEHRC