This page was last updated July 15, 2016. Keep checking this page for updates.

Delegates are flocking to Philadelphia for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominating convention, which runs from July 25 through July 28, 2016. Protesters from around the country will also converge on Philly. Here’s what you need to know.

The ACLU-PA is here to protect protesters’ rights, including by helping protesters get permits, responding to police misconduct, and handling other legal hurdles. In May, the ACLU-PA raised a number of DNC-related concerns with the city, and in June, successfully sued the city to overturn the city’s ban on all protest marches in Center City between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

Our know your rights pamphlet for protesters is available online or you can order printed pocket cards by emailing us at info@aclupa.org. ACLU volunteers will also be distributing them during the DNC.

Permits

Philadelphia does not require a permit for any protest of fewer than 75 people. If a group of 75 or more protesters gathers without a permit, the Philadelphia police can lawfully order the group to disperse and arrest anyone who fails to move along. However, the Philadelphia police have traditionally allowed large protests and marches to occur without permits, so long as the protesters do not attempt to block major intersections or streets or interfere with access to buildings.  A spokesperson for Mayor Kenney has said that no protesters will be arrested solely because they don't have a permit.

The police WILL ARREST protesters who occupy private property (such as banks and stores) and refuse to leave. Protesters who engage in other forms of unlawful activity for the purpose of expressing a message (otherwise known as “civil disobedience”) should also expect to be arrested.

Even though un-permitted marches may be allowed, we recommend that any large groups planning to protest apply for a permit because different groups may want to use the same place or march down the same street at the same time, and if that happens, the group with the permit has the right to exclude the un-permitted group from the space. Permits are issued on a first-come-first-served basis. Because of the settlement in the ACLU-PA’s successful challenge to the city’s restrictions on afternoon rush hour protest marches, permit applications will no longer be denied merely because of the time of the march. The city’s website provides regularly updated information on the status of all DNC permit applications. 

If you want to demonstrate on federal property, such as Independence Mall, you need to use the permit process used by the Independence National Historical Park Service: 

If you want to advise us of your DNC protest plans or get legal advice related to DNC protest, please fill out this form and explain that you want to speak with an attorney about protest at the DNC, and we will call you. 

Legal Observers and Legal Defense of Protesters Arrested or Cited During the DNC

If you need legal observers for your protest during the DNC, email the National Lawyers Guild at DNC2016@nlgphilly.org.

If you are arrested or cited during the DNC, call the Up Against the Law Collective at 484-758-0388.

Things to Help You Plan

The convention itself will take place at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia, located at the base of Broad Street, about 3.5 miles south of City Hall.  It is bounded on the west by Broad Street, on the east by 11th Street, on the north by Pattison Avenue, and on the south by Interstate 95. The Wells Fargo Center is a private facility and during the week of the DNC, access to the center will be limited to those with DNC credentials.

The city launched a DNC website to provide updates on road closures, service interruptions, and other DNC-related information.

Public Transportation

As of now, we believe that the Broad Street Line (subway) will be in operation throughout the Convention, and the station at Broad and Pattison will be open. Bus lines that use Broad Street will likely be detoured to other streets.

Where to Gather

A large number of protesters will gather in FDR Park, which is across Broad Street from the Wells Fargo Center.  The city will set up portable toilets in the park.  Some areas of the park, like the baseball diamonds and the golf course, will be off-limits to protesters.  The city will not allow tents or other camping structures in the park.

Security

The convention is a National Special Security Event (NSSE), which means that the Secret Service will take a number of steps to ensure that the convention is not attacked or disrupted. 

The city has stated that it anticipates “rolling, temporary road closures because of dignitary movements or protests around the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the stadium district in South Philadelphia.”

In addition, the Secret Service has announced the following road closures around the Wells Fargo Center for the duration of the DNC:

Beginning no later than 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, until late evening on Friday, July 29, the following permanent street closures will be in effect:

  • North and south bound lanes of South Broad Street between Packer Avenue and the Navy Yard/Terminal Avenue
  • Pattison Avenue from South 7th Street to the eastern most entrance to FDR Park
  • Terminal Avenue from South Broad Street to South 11th Street
  • South 11th Street from Hartranft Street to Terminal Avenue

Beginning no later than 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, until late evening on Friday, July 29, the following street closures will be in effect and access will be limited to authorized vehicles ONLY. Access will be controlled by the Philadelphia Police Department:

  • Pattison Avenue from South 20th Street to the eastern most entrance to FDR Park
  • Hartranft Street from South Broad Street to South Darien Street
  • South Darien Street from Packer Avenue to Lurie Way
  • 10th Street south of Packer Avenue

Beginning daily, from Monday, July 25, to Friday, July 29, the following I-76 eastbound exit ramp will be closed between the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.:

  • Exit #350 / Packer Avenue

This information is up-to-date as of July 16, 2016. Check back regularly for updates. Questions? Email us at info@aclupa.org.

 

  

Stay informed

ACLU of Pennsylvania is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National