by Ann Garrison
KPFA Weekend News broadcast July 4, 2016
The Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Campaign looks to make history at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
KPFA Evening News Anchor Cameron Jones: The Democratic National Convention will take place in Philadelphia from July 25 to July 28. City authorities readily issued permits for four marches during the convention, but the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign had to file a complaint in federal court, with the help of the ACLU, to get a permit for their march, the March for Our Lives.
That complaint was settled out of court on Thursday, and the marchers now plan to step off outside Philadelphia City Hall at 3:00 p.m. on the first day of the convention. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to campaign organizer, Philadelphia native and former Green Party vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Could you tell us, Cheri Honkala, about the court victory you won there in Philadelphia?
Cheri Honkala: It was a struggle but we were adamant and told the ACLU over and over again for 48 hours that we would not change our permit request, and we have won the right to march on the south side of City Hall at 3:00 o’clock, going all the way up Broad Street to the front door of the Democratic National Convention.
And so we’re hoping that anybody that was afraid before will come out in droves and join us. Our march has turned into a real symbol of the fight for political independence from the two corporate controlled parties. And I think we’re gonna look back and see this as an important historical marker.
KPFA: You just said that you were telling the ACLU that you would not change your permit request. Why did you have to keep telling the ACLU this?
CH: Well, for pretty much 48 hours straight, we received a lot of pressure. The ACLU kept telling us that the city wanted to change our march route, wanted to change everything about our march, and kept coming back to the table over and over again.
And I’m just very proud of the front line communities here. They stayed very strong. They didn’t buckle under pressure the city was putting on us.
We’re still concerned because we think the city is going to try and plan various different events at the same time as our march to overshadow our march. I think they’re going to have famous musicians playing at the same time on the other side of City Hall.
I’m just very proud of the front line communities here. They stayed very strong. They didn’t buckle under pressure the city was putting on us.
So that’s why it’s really important that people understand that our march begins at 3:00 on the south side of City Hall, because the Democratic Party is going to stop at absolutely nothing to make sure that the voices of poor and other front line communities are not heard in the Democratic National Convention.
KPFA: Do you have any hope of influencing the Democratic Party with this march?
CH: After being in the anti-poverty and anti-homeless movement for over 30 years, I honestly have to say I have no hope any more for the Democratic Party. Things are not going to change or get better for the poor in this country if we continue to somehow hope that the Democratic Party can be reformed.
KPFA: Will you have nonviolence training as part of the preparation for the march?
CH: We’re having several sessions of nonviolence training leading all the way up until two days before the convention. We’ll have trainings before we step off on July 25.
It’s really important to us that the whole world understands that we’re a nonviolent movement. We’re actually very against all forms of violence, but we think it’s incredibly important that front line communities are heard from.
And we intend to bring many people to the mike who will give testimony to the horrible things that are happening in this country. We’ve called for international observers.
We’re hoping that people bring cameras, that people film what happens on July 25. We’re hoping that people will take some time in their summer, travel to Philadelphia. If you don’t want to participate in the march, you can stand on the sidewalk and be a human rights observer.
We intend to bring many people to the mike who will give testimony to the horrible things that are happening in this country.
KPFA: And that was Cheri Honkala, organizer with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign’s March for Our Lives at the Democratic National Convention. Honkala also said that an unprecedented $43 million will be spent on security during this year’s convention, but that the March for Our Lives is nonviolent and marchers should not feel afraid.
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.