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July 24, 2016

The PhillyVoice guide to the 2016 Democratic National Convention

Here's the skinny on the politics, protests, parties and road closures coming with convention

The Democratic National Convention marks the second major event Philadelphia will host in less than a year.

But don't expect to see Hillary Clinton riding up and down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway atop the bed of a pickup truck, as Pope Francis did last September. The DNC will be markedly different than the papal visit, but perhaps no less monumental.

WATCH: Live stream from DNC in Philadelphia

 For one, only 50,000 people will be flocking to Philadelphia. And the events largely will be confined to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City and the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.

Clinton will be formally nominated as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, making her the first woman to top a major party's ticket. By January, she could be the first woman who takes the presidential oath of office. 

But the Democrats will do far more during their four-day stay in Philadelphia from July 25 to 28. They will hold varied caucus and council meetings, ratify a platform and enjoy the party.

For those unfamiliar with the happenings of a political convention, here is the PhillyVoice guide to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Be sure to check back periodically for updated information.


The evening sessions, held at the Wells Fargo Center, will feature a mixture of speeches, entertainment performances and party business, like ratifying the latest Democratic platform. Of course, the delegates also will formally nominate Hillary Clinton as the party's presidential candidate. Clinton will give her acceptance speech on Thursday night. 

"It's going to look like America," Deputy Press Secretary Christopher Huntley said. "It's going to be great to see how diverse and inclusive our convention is compared to what you will have seen in Cleveland the week before."

The Wells Fargo Center events are limited to delegates, party officials and credentialed media. But the DNC is arranging public watch parties at the convention center and elsewhere in Center City. Here's what to expect on each of the four nights.

Monday: First Lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders and DREAMer Astrid Silva will address the future for American families and the importance of an economy that benefits everyone.

Tuesday: Former President Bill Clinton will be joined by Mothers of the Movement, a group of black women whose children have been killed by the police or by gun violence. The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, among others, will be on stage. 

Wednesday: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will address the stakes of the 2016 election and highlight the experience Hillary Clinton provides.

Thursday: Hillary Clinton will accept the party's nomination and present her vision for the United States. Her daughter, Chelsea, will introduce her.

Throughout the week, various other speakers also will take the podium, including Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Among the notable Philly-related speakers: Mayor Jim Kenney, Gov. Tom Wolf, former Gov. Ed Rendell, Sen. Bob Casey, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and U.S. Rep Brendan Boyle. 


Various caucus and council meetings will take place each morning at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. A specific agenda has not been publicly released. But, generally, each of the four days will follow the following schedule:

• The 57 state delegations – about 6,000 delegates and alternates – will hold breakfast sessions at their respective hotels, featuring speeches from various campaign personnel and state leaders. Many of the delegations are staying at hotels in Center City. But 19 others, like those from Michigan, Oregon and Guam will be stationed out in the suburbs.

• Beginning around 10 a.m., delegates will take part in caucus and council meetings held at the Convention Center. 

Throughout the convention, the AAPI, Black, Hispanic, LGBT and Women's caucuses will meet to discuss their involvement in the Democratic Party and civic engagement. The following councils also will meet: Disability, Ethnic, Faith, Labor, Native American, Rural, Senior, Small Business Owners, Youth and Veterans and Military Families.

"It's also a really great way to bring everyone together, get rallied and ready for the evening festivities, and also for our next president," said Tamia Booker, director of constituency and allied groups engagement. "They're a really great time."

The various meetings are open to the public and will continue until about 4 p.m. each day. There is no need to register. 

Hayden Mitman/PhillyVoice

Activist Cheri Honkala argues against the city's planned shut down of rush hour protests during the upcoming Democratic National Convention.


Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to demonstrate during the convention. The city has designated six zones within FDR Park, across Broad Street from the arena, where protesters have obtained permits to demonstrate. Other protests will take place at Thomas Paine Plaza in Center City and Marconi Plaza in South Philly.

Several groups have announced plans to protest, including a network of some 30,000 Bernie Sanders supporters who plan to demonstrate throughout the convention at FDR Park. Another group plans to establish a tent city in Kensington, dubbing the place Clintonville – a riff on the Hoovervilles that popped up across the country in the 1930s. And a 51-foot marijuana joint will be paraded through the city – twice. 

Below is a list of some of the largest anticipated protests. A full listing of the permitted protests can be found here. As of Friday, 28 permits had been issued.

Sunday: Some 5,000 environmental advocates plan to march from City Hall to Independence Hall to urge Pennsylvania to ban fracking in favor of renewable energy solutions. The march begins at noon.

Monday: A Bernie Sanders rally expected to be 5,000 strong will kick off at 10 a.m. in Marconi Plaza.

A separate Bernie Sanders march will begin on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 11 a.m. and snake its way through Center City and down to Pattison Avenue via Broad Street. The march could draw as many as 15,000 people.

A "Candlelight Vigil to Commemorate the Death of Democracy," expected to draw about 8,000 people, will take place in FDR Park at 5 p.m.

Tuesday: A small group from Westboro Baptist Church will demonstrate outside the Mazzoni Center in Center City at 2:15 p.m. Another group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, is planning a counter-protest. 

A "Shut Down the DNC" rally and march will begin at 2 p.m., organized by a group that includes the MOVE Organization and the Coalition for REAL Justice. The 2,000 demonstrators plan to march from City Hall to South Philly during rush hour.  

Elsewhere, the Trump for PA campaign has a permit to begin three days of rallying at Marconi Plaza.

Wednesday: Black Men for Bernie will hold a rally at Thomas Paine Plaza from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Some 2,000 demonstrators are expected. Another 8,000 or so Bernie Sanders supporters will gather in FDR Park for the first of two days of rallying. 

Additionally, a group of bikers seeking to celebrate the political process plans to bike down Broad Street at 7:30 p.m.

Thursday: The "DNC Cannabis Pride Parade," featuring an inflated, 51-foot marijuana joint, will begin at 3 p.m. at Broad and Oregon streets.

The 8,000 Bernie Sanders supporters, organized by a group dubbed "Occupy DNC," again will rally in FDR Park. 

Friday: Hillary Clinton's campaign will host a public rally at Independence Mall from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. More details are forthcoming but Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, will appear.

Elsewhere, Black Men for Bernie will hold another 9 a.m. rally at Thomas Paine Plaza.

Though permits are required to stage protests, city officials have said there will not be any "crackdown" on protesters who do not obtain permits. City officials had been adamant that demonstrations would not be permitted in Center City during the morning and evening rush hours, but later eased up on that stance.

Recent city legislation enables police to issue $100 civil fines instead of making criminal arrests for nuisances crimes, like disorderly conduct or blocking a street. Mayor Jim Kenney signed the law in an attempt to avoid mass arrests during the convention.


Conventioneers do love to party. And the city will be ready.

Parties will be thrown by myriad organizations and political groups throughout the week. Some, like one being thrown by EMILY'S List, will take place during the afternoon. Others, like a Unity Party featuring Snoop Dogg, will occur after the events at the Wells Fargo Center wind down each night.

To aid conventioneers in their revelry, some bars and restaurants are permitted to circumvent existing alcohol laws during the convention, including the 2 a.m. last call. Establishments hosting events directly related to the DNC were allowed to apply for special events permits allowing them to extend drinking hours.

Here is an impartial listing of scheduled parties and events:

Monday: POLITICO Hub, a weeklong event hosted by the political news organization, kicks off with a 5 p.m. concert featuring Alicia Keys. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and other politicos will appear at POLITICO events throughout the week. Earlier in the day, a score of Philly's best lunch trucks will arrive in Old City for "Philly Feast," an afternoon festival.

Tuesday: The MusiCorps Wounded Warrier Band will perform alongside vocalist Aloe Blacc at a 10 p.m. at the Trocadero in a concert honoring veterans.

Wednesday: EMILY's List, an organization that supports pro-choice Democrats running for office, will throw a 3 p.m. party at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi, among others, will speak. 

Thursday: Lenny Kravitz, Lady Gaga and DJ Jazzy Jeff will perform at "Camden Rising," a 1 p.m. concert for delegates and DNC volunteers at BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey. Here's how to get there from Center City.

Late Thursday night, Snoop Dogg will headline a concert hosted by Priorities USA at the Electric Factory.

Various smaller events will occur throughout the week. Some, like the "LGBT DNC Welcome Happy Hour" at Woody's on Sunday, July 24 will be open to the publics. Others events will be more exclusive, like the "Kickoff Yacht Party and Autism Benefit" being thrown Saturday, July 23 by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and State Rep. Jordan Harris.


The Democratic Party will ratify its latest platform at some point during the convention.

That platform calls for many of the legislative changes advocated by Clinton or her Democratic primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, on the campaign trail – Wall Street reforms, universal health care, clean energy mandates, criminal justice reforms and a minimum wage increase. For the first time, the platform calls for abolishment of the death penalty, calling it a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

The Drafting Committee held public forums in Washington and Phoenix before voting to approve the platform on June 25 in St. Louis. The platform gained the approval of the full, 187-member Platform Committee at a forum being held July 8-9 in Orlando, Florida.

The platform was drafted by a group that included various members of Congress, community stakeholders and representatives from both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns.


Hillary Clinton was long viewed as the inevitable 2016 Democratic Party nominee – even before she announced her candidacy. But it took nearly the entire primary season for her to gain the support needed to clinch the nomination.

Now, Clinton will look to unite the party after outlasting a competitive campaign by Bernie Sanders, whose self-described, democratic-socialistic ideals attracted an ardent following of young voters. Sanders initially vowed to remain in the race until the convention, but endorsed Clinton earlier this month

The Democrats will coronate Clinton, who will launch an effort that could focus as much on preventing Donald Trump from winning the presidency as it will on her own qualifications gained as a former first lady, senator and secretary of state. 

Her campaign will push forward with a rally on Independence Mall on Friday, July 29 – the day after she formally accepts the nomination. The historic site promises symbolism for the first woman to win a major party's presidential nomination. In 1876, five suffragists interrupted a Centennial celebration to present a women's bill of rights. 

The convention will likely include an address from her vice presidential candidate. 


Hillary Clinton selected Sen. Tim Kaine to fill the Democratic ticket just days before the DNC is set to begin, ending rampant speculation that began shortly after she clinched the nomination earlier this summer. 

Kaine, a Clinton loyalist representing the swing state of Virginia, was tapped for the vice presidential nomination despite concerns among liberals regarding his positions on international trade deals and Wall Street regulation.

Kaine, 58, built a reputation for working across the aisle in his previous roles as Virginia governor and mayor of Richmond, according to the Associated Press. He is fluent in Spanish and helped craft Senate legislation on foreign relations and military affairs. 

On Twitter, Clinton called him "a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it."

Kaine was selected over liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who drew much of the media attention earlier this summer, particularly after she and Clinton campaigned together in Cincinnati

Warren, a Democrat well known for her anti-Wall Street and liberal stances, might have helped Clinton bridge the gap with Bernie Sanders' supporters. Her inclusion would have generated hype for being on the first all-woman ticket, but Warren's independence could have made Clinton reluctant.

Warren and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown – another possibility appealing to liberals – reportedly were on a short list of nine names Clinton considered, according to the Wall Street JournalNew Jersey Sen. Cory Booker also was tossed out as a possibility who could further secure the African-American vote while appealing to young and progressive voters, too.

Among the other names Clinton reportedly considered: U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, California Rep. Xavier Becerra, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.


The DNC host committee is presenting PoliticalFest, an interactive festival highlighting American political history, as a way to engage the community during the convention. The non-partisan festival includes exhibits featuring multimedia displays, historical artifacts and guest appearances at seven locations throughout Philadelphia.

The National Constitution Center, which simultaneously is running its "Headed to the White House" exhibit, will serve as the hub for PoliticalFest and host a political theater event. Each location will offer a different theme, including the campaign trail, Pennsylvania and the Presidency, and the history of political conventions in Philadelphia.

Tickets for PoliticalFest are $15 for adults and $5 for children ages 17 and under, college students and seniors ages 65 and older. Veterans and credentialed convention attendees are free. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Wednesday, July 27.

Here are the other six locations:

• Pennsylvania Convention Center, Hall F, 12th and the Arch streets

• The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1314 Locust St.

• Philadelphia History Museum, 15 S. 7th St.

• The Heritage Center of the Union League of Philadelphia, 140 S. Broad St.

• National Liberty Museum, 321 Chestnut St.

• Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust St.

Source/City of Philadelphia

This map shows the road closures slated to occur near the Wells Fargo Center during the Democratic National Convention.


Compared to the last September's papal visit, road closures and parking restrictions will be minimal.

Pattison Avenue will be closed from Seventh Street to the east entrance of FDR Park, beginning at no later than noon on Saturday, July 23 and extending until 9 p.m. on Friday, July 29. Broad Street will be closed south of Packer Avenue during that same time period.

Terminal Avenue also will be closed from Broad Street to 11th Street. A stretch of 11th Street will be shuttered from Hartranft Street to Terminal Avenue. 

The I-76 exit (No. 350) to Packer Avenue will be closed from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. beginning Monday, July 25 and ending Friday, July 29.

Several streets, identified on the above map in blue, will be restricted to authorized vehicles only. A listing of those streets can be found here

I-95 will feature some restrictions that primarily will affect large commercial vehicles.

Vehicles weighing more than five tons will be prohibited from traveling between Exits 13 and 22 from noon on Friday, July 23 until midday on July 29.

The northbound ramp to Exit 17 (Broad Street) will be closed to all drivers during this period. The southbound exit will be closed intermittently during the following times:

• 10 p.m. Friday, July 22 until 6 a.m. Saturday, July 23

• 2 p.m. Monday, July 25 until 2 a.m. Tuesday, July 26

• 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 26 until 2 a.m. Wednesday, July 27

• 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 27 until 2 a.m. Thursday, July 28

• 2 p.m. Thursday, July 28 until midday Friday, July 29.

PennDOT has detour information here.

SEPTA's AT&T Station (AKA Pattison Avenue) on the Broad Street Line will remain open throughout the convention.

As for parking, the city will actually enforce the ban on median parking on South Broad Street to ensure the safety of protesters who plan to march down Broad. Otherwise, the city encourages residents to watch for signs listing any temporary parking restrictions in their neighborhoods, but such restrictions are expected to be minimal.