At least 35 taken into custody in nighttime protests

Tom Moore of Marion, Mass., wakes up with a tenor ukulele singing Bob Marley's "One Love" as dozens of protesters camp, sleep, meet and eat in FDR Park during the DNC at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Hundreds of Sen. Bernie Sanders' most devoted followers vowed Wednesday to keep their political revolution alive, returning to the streets with renewed energy on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

For more than six hours at a plaza near City Hall, speakers including dozens of Sanders delegates yelled out to a crowd that swelled to more than 400 people. Despite pleas for unity, including one from Sanders himself, many said they would not fall in line.

"This revolution will not end after the DNC!" shouted Gary Frazier, Philadelphia coordinator for the advocacy group Black Men for Bernie, which helped organize the rally. "We will never, ever vote for Hillary Clinton."

In the evening, however, tensions grew - and things got uglier - at the Wells Fargo Center. First, 34 protesters were taken into custody after they refused police orders to stop blocking an exit to the convention area.

Then hundreds more rallied at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue shortly after 10 p.m., chanting, drumming, and waving signs.

And shortly before 11 p.m., seven people were arrested for scaling a fence outside the Wells Fargo Center and getting into the secure zone. The Secret Service said those people were charged with entering a restricted area. They face initial court hearings Thursday. 

Altogether, since Sunday, 11 people have been charged by federal officials for allegedly breaching the security perimeter at the arena and  Philadelphia police issued 103 citations to protesters, including 44 on Wednesday.

 

As President Obama addressed the convention, protesters outside tried to push through barrier gates. Police pushed back and were reinforced by dozens more. A fire was lit, catching onto the clothing of a female protester. "She's on fire!" someone yelled and others extinguished the flames with bottled water.

Another small group set a flag on fire.  But the scene quickly de-escalated as some groups splintered off back to FDR Park and the protesters' campgrounds.

Earlier, 10 protesters were given citations after they zip-tied themselves to a railing inside the Comcast Center lobby in protest of corporate media companies. Another small group gathered at Eighth and Market Streets to protest the decision by Baltimore prosecutors to drop the remaining counts against officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Still, after three days of demonstrations that at times grew large and volatile, the tone across the city Wednesday was far more muted, perhaps out of a mixture of disappointment at Clinton's Tuesday nomination and fatigue.

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"I think everybody's a little low today," said Andrew English, 29, of Charlotte, N.C., as he sat on a bench beside a friend who was munching on a beet as if it were an apple.

"We all knew . . . Hillary Clinton was going to get the nomination, but we still had our hopes and dreams," English said. "But they were crushed yesterday."

Others were not beaten down.

At the Bernie rally, voter after voter and Sanders delegate after Sanders delegate climbed the stage and shouted into a microphone as the crowd clapped, cheered, and thrust signs into the air. The anti-Clinton sentiments were unmistakable.

For some, the rejection of Clinton was in part because they said she was too much of an establishment candidate. For others, Clinton's progressive stance paled in comparison with Sanders'.

But mostly, they said, the appeal of Sanders came from his ability to buck traditional politics.

"No more Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Clinton - no," said Denise Groves, a 40-year-old delegate from Maine who walked out of the convention Tuesday night after Clinton was nominated. "Let's do this! Peace, love, and Bernie."

Later, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein took the stage to chants of "Jill, not Hill!"

Stein went with it, blasting Clinton as the "lesser evil" and the Democrats as "that zombie political party whose days are numbered." She said the Green Party and a bloc of voters united on such issues as ending police brutality, fracking, and immigrant deportation "are the solutions to the Donald Trumps of the world."

Tensions flared only in fleeting moments.

Hours after the event started, members of a group denigrating homosexuality appeared, hoisting large signs that read "Stop Being a Sinner" and "Judgment Is Coming." As protesters yelled back, police formed a line to separate the two groups.

Later, a group holding a large sign that said "STOP Murder by Police" made its way to the front of the crowd. Police followed closely behind. But an event organizer on stage called for police to step back, saying he had the situation under control.

Police backed away. He called to the crowd to cheer for a political revolution.

The crowd went wild.

As the event wound down, attendees clustered around Colorado delegate Gabriel McArthur, who was handing out green T-shirts for a demonstration Thursday.

The goal?

A mass de-registration from Democratic voting rolls.

McArthur said he was planning to change his party registration and would vote for Stein. He participated in the walkout from the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night, his first convention.

"I thought we were going to have a vote, something a little more democratic," he said. "Instead I felt like a seat-filler in a commercial."

In the background, the the demonstrators danced to "Disco Inferno," chanting "Burn, baby, burn!" -- pun very much intended -- and cheering.

Around 9 p.m., a group of about 40 protesters at the Wells Fargo Center blocked an exit for delegates. Police officers had to detour delegates around a security fence so they could get to waiting buses. Eventually, most of the protesters were taken into custody. They were expected to be given civil citations. Prior to those detentions, Philadelphia police reported they had issued citations to 69 individuals.

Also Wednesday, the four arrested as they scaled the fence outside the arena Tuesday appeared in federal court and were released on their own recognizance. Lawyers for the four - the first to be taken into custody since the convention opened - said the arrests were arbitrary and questioned why they faced possible criminal records while other protesters walked away with $50 civil citations.

The Wednesday arrests for a similar incident brought the total number of arrests for the convention to 11. All have been charged in federal court.

"I'm very concerned about the expansive use of federal power to designate certain locations to be national security sites to the exclusion of First Amendment rights," said Paul Hetznecker, a Center City lawyer. "I think it's a dangerous precedent for our democracy and our civil rights."

tnadolny@phillynews.com

215-854-2730 @TriciaNadolny

Contributing to this article were staff writers Aubrey Whelan, Julia Terruso, Justine McDaniel, Steve Bohnel, Jeremy Roebuck, Michaelle Bond, and Joseph A. Gambardello.