President Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and the entire Republican congressional delegation will be in town this week — and local activists are planning a slew of protests to greet them.
A “Queer Rager” dance party to protest the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act is planned for Wednesday night outside the Loews hotel at 12th and Market Streets, where the GOP congressional retreat is meeting Wednesday through Friday. (A similar dance party was held outside the house Vice President Pence rented in Chevy Chase, Md., the night before he was inaugurated.)
“As they try to take away our health care, to police Black, Brown, Trans and Queer bodies, to regulate our bodies, we’re here to say, we are queer, we are here, we will dance," the Facebook event reads. “BRING YR GLOWSTICKS AND FLASHLIGHTS! AND YR RAINBOWS, SEQUINS AND RAGE.”
Most of the protests center around the proposed ACA repeal, a hallmark of Trump’s campaign and one of the longest-held goals of Republicans in Congress. The GOP has already taken steps toward repealing the law, and one of Trump's first executive orders in office was aimed at "easing the burden" of the ACA. But exactly what might replace the act is the subject of much debate.
About 2,000 people said on Facebook that they would attend a lunch-hour “die-in” on Thursday at the Loews hotel, where Trump will attend the annual GOP congressional retreat. Protesters will march from Thomas Paine Plaza near City Hall to the Loews, where they will fall to the ground to protest the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
“A lot of people in Philadelphia have healthcare because of the ACA,” said Salewa Ogunmefun, the political director of One Pennsylvania, the activist group organizing the event. “Here in our city we need the ACA — and if you're going to do something, let's make it better. It’s not politics — it’s people’s lives. We want to make sure they understand that.”
SEIU Healthcare — the state’s largest healthcare workers union — will hold an event prior to the march, also at Thomas Paine Plaza.
There are also a number of retreat-related workshops hosted by activist groups around the city planned for this week. An immigrant-rights group from New York is sending protesters down to Philadelphia Thursday morning. And, ostensibly to facilitate spur-of-the-moment protests, someone’s made a Google map that lists everywhere one might spot a Republican around town this week.
The city is expected to release information this afternoon on whether to expect road closures related to the retreat.