Marching, sitting, burning protests continue to roil DNC

A sit-in in a media tent was staged by about 100 Bernie Sanders supporters outside the convention Tuesday night, following the formal nomination of Hillary Clinton.

Protests roiled Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention, as thousands of demonstrators forced their way down Broad Street, with smaller crowds turning unruly and threatening as the evening wound down.

The Secret Service arrested four people after they scaled a barrier at the Wells Fargo Center. The four - the first to be taken into custody in the first two days of the convention - were charged with entering restricted area and are to appear before a federal magistrate Wednesday.

 That followed an unexpected sit-in by about 100 disgruntled Bernie Sanders delegates who took to the convention's media tents after Hillary Clinton won the nomination late Tuesday.

"This is what [Sanders] would do. I think he'd be proud," said Tennessee delegate Kristy Douglas, who shrugged off an email from Sanders that urged her not to protest.

Men and women sat on the floor of the convention - some with tape over their mouths - holding hands. Some wept openly. Many held signs and fists up in the air saying "Never Hillary," "Wikileaks = DNC," and "Bernie."

Inside the convention hall, speakers came to and from the stage, as planned. In the streets outside, protesters had been marching and speaking for hours. Around 8:30 p.m., immediately outside the Wells Fargo Center, several began scaling the large security fences that ring the convention site, while others chanted "Tear down the wall." Earlier, an American flag was set aflame.

Around 9:30 p.m., a loud, restless group of several hundred protesters was still moving toward the convention center, chanting. Police briefly attempted to block the intersection at Broad Street and Packer Avenue, but protesters continued through and headed for the security barricades surrounding the convention area.

Late Tuesday, other protesters burned an Israeli flag outside the security fence and shouted "Long live the intifada!" Signs attached to the security fence also were set aflame. Firefighters put out both fires.

Police in riot gear remained in reserve nearby, but were not needed. By 10:30 p.m., the crowds - and the tensions - began to dissipate.

Earlier, the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice, one of the most vocal black activist groups in the city, led a raucous protest down Broad Street from North Philadelphia. That protest met up with several hundred progressive protesters staging a Shut Down the DNC March, similar to one staged last week at the Republican National Convention.

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Earlier that morning, a few hundred had gathered to protest gun violence in Logan Square. And in Center City, outside the Mazzoni Center on Locust Street, a transgender health clinic, hundreds showed up to counter-protest four members of the notoriously homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, who had obtained a permit and picketed the clinic.

The dramatic walkout from within the convention began around 7 p.m., when Clinton was formally nominated and Sanders delegates streamed into the large media tents outside the convention center.

Earlier in the day, Sanders delegates said they had failed in an attempt to put forth another candidate for vice president, saying the Democratic National Committee "shut us down" by not providing the necessary form upon first request.

Norman Solomon, leader of the Bernie Delegates Network, refused to disclose the name of the progressive candidate the group said it had lined up to run, instead blaming the DNC.

"There is no candidate. The DNC saw to that," he said in response to reporters' requests for the person's name.

That night, inside the media tent, North Dakota delegate Michael Lopez said he walked out for a simple reason: "I came here to cast my vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders. I did that. I'm done."

Other disgruntled loyalists, prevented from entering, held signs up to the windows of the tent as members of the media snapped photos.

Armed state troopers and Philadelphia police stood watch over the group as a peaceful action continued into the evening outside the convention.

Not all Sanders supporters were thrilled by the display of discord so soon after the party's nominee had been chosen. Connor Callahan, 24, a Sanders delegate from Cecil County, Md., came outside to try to persuade them to stop.

"We should be inside, listening to Mothers of the Movement," said Callahan, referring to the mothers of victims of police killings who were speaking inside the convention at that point. "If we are to provide a united front in November, we need to stand together through this convention."

Protesters who crowded City Hall and blocked Broad Street with marches for much of the afternoon were uninterested in a united front - at least with any of the major political parties.

Around 5 p.m., Erdem Varol, 28, squeezed through the throng outside City Hall with his brand-new bride, Polina Varol, 32, by his side, and surveyed the scene.

"It's like a million people crashed our party, in a good way," Varol said.

As they moved down Broad Street in North Philadelphia - through some of the city's poorest neighborhoods - protesters with the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice chanted: "Don't vote for Hillary. She's killing black people." Earlier, some chanted "No justice, no peace. Take it to the streets" and finished with a vulgar epithet at police.

The protest also focused on Philly-centric issues: gentrification, the city's financially troubled school system, Philadelphians who were victims of police brutality. They chanted for the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner and serving a life prison sentence.

It was the first protest at this convention predominantly focused on police brutality, and led by Erica Mines, the activist who interrupted a Bill Clinton speech in Philadelphia earlier this year to criticize his 1994 crime bill. As the march began, she warned a group of anarchists against escalating tensions with the police - "We will not be pepper-sprayed," she said - and asked that black protesters be allowed to march at the front of the line to highlight the protest's focus on police brutality. Though tense at times - Mines sparred through a bullhorn at a reporter, and marchers kicked two men out of the protest who they believed were undercover cops - the demonstration was peaceful.

Outside the Wells Fargo Center later that night, about 20 Philadelphia motorcycle officers drove onto the sidewalk near AT&T Station, which remained closed. The officers scattered protesters and then drove off.

Minutes later, the first of about six protesters scaled the black metal fence that separated police and protesters. All of them were grabbed by police once they flipped over to the other side. On Monday, 55 people were given citations for scaling much lower police barricades.

The crowd cheered on each one.

"Tear down the wall," they chanted.


awhelan@phillynews.com

215-854-2961 @aubreywhelan

Staff writers Steve Bohnel, Jason Nark, Michaelle Bond, Maria Panaritis, and Jonathan Tamari contributed to this report.