Philadelphia refuses to permit poor peoples’ march at Democratic convention

by Ann Garrison and Cheri Honkala

Pacifica/KPFA Evening News broadcast May 30, 2016

Philadelphia denies march permit to the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

Transcript

The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign has been denied a permit for the March for Our Lives protest they’re planning for 3 p.m. on July 25 in front of City Hall during the Democratic National Convention, Cheri Honkala tells the press on May 17. She led a similar protest at the Republican National Convention in 2000 – without a permit – and said the denial of her application won’t affect her plans this time either. Disabled people, children and elders will lead the march. – Photo: Sam Newhouse, Philadelphia Metro
The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign has been denied a permit for the March for Our Lives protest they’re planning for 3 p.m. on July 25 in front of City Hall during the Democratic National Convention, Cheri Honkala tells the press on May 17. She led a similar protest at the Republican National Convention in 2000 – without a permit – and said the denial of her application won’t affect her plans this time either. Disabled people, children and elders will lead the march. – Photo: Sam Newhouse, Philadelphia Metro

KPFA Evening News Anchor Cameron Jones: The Democratic National Convention will take place in Philadelphia, from July 25 through July 28. City authorities have issued permits for four marches during the convention, but they have thus far refused to grant a permit to the March for Our Lives organized by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to campaign organizer, Philadelphia native and former Green Party vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Cheri Honkala, four permits have been issued for marches at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July. Could you give us an idea of what you expect there?

Cheri Honkala: Yeah, the only permits that have been granted and probably will be granted are just marches and events that are associated in one way or another with the Democratic Party. There’s an environmental march and then there are all the Bernie events.

The one march that has not been granted a permit happens to be my march. It’s a march for poor and homeless families, single payer and stopping the school to prison pipeline – and the whole list. We’ve always had our marches on opening days of both the Democratic and the Republican conventions, and it’s called the March for Our Lives.

I’m sure that the only reason that I’m not being granted a permit is because I am not a Democrat and I am really pushing forward this idea of independent politics in this country. And marchers, all of us, are going to go forward with the march on opening day, which is July 25, at 3 p.m., in front of City Hall, and it will probably be the largest march. I’ve heard from the Bernie supporters that many are planning to join us in our march.

KPFA: Did the authorities try to come up with any better reason for not permitting your march?

CH: They basically said that the Bernie folks had permits for the entire town and all of FDR Park, and I have to be careful about what I say because I want to stay alive and there are very powerful forces out there. But one would think that there would be civil liberties attorneys stepping up and challenging this thing legally – and there aren’t.

Philadelphia City Hall is the starting point for the March for Our Lives 2016.
Philadelphia City Hall is the starting point for the March for Our Lives 2016.

KPFA: Your march would be a non-partisan march, right?

CH: Yes, the march has Bernie folks, Green folks, anarchists, socialists, whoever. And the fact that the city is not allowing this march that is just focusing on all of the social ills of our country right now – to not allow that march to happen – is devastating beyond words. I would expect that of the Republicans. I didn’t expect that from the Democrats.

KPFA: What was the name of your march again?

CH: It’s called the March for Our Lives. It’s on opening day of the Democratic convention. Members of Vets for Peace are part of our security team, our peace team.

Our marches always begin with people from the disability community who will be in wheelchairs at the front, as well as our elders and our children, and we will step off at three o’clock. We’re hoping and praying that we will not see a repeat of the Democratic National Convention in ‘68 in Chicago, but we know that this march is incredibly important.

KPFA: And that was Cheri Honkala, Philadelphia native and organizer with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. Honkala also said that a long list of basic social needs are being neglected in Philadelphia while the city spends $43 million to build up the police state and militarize the police.

The March for Our Lives website is March4OurLives2016.org.

In Berkeley, for Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I’m Ann Garrison.

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 anniegarrison@gmail.com. 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.