July 30, 2016
Thanks to a policy change made shortly before the Democratic National Convention came to town, no protesters were arrested by the Philadelphia Police Department during the event.
Demonstrators advocating for everything from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign to the Black Lives Matter movement descended upon the city for four days.
Tensions ran high during some of the protests, and police handed out citations to more than 100 demonstrators during the convention.
But those cited were given $50 fines and released. In June, Mayor Jim Kenney signed legislation that reduced the penalty for so-called "nuisance crimes" like disorderly conduct and obstruction.
The bill, introduced by City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., turned the punishment for said crimes from criminal summary citations into essentially tickets.
On Monday, 54 people were cited for disorderly conduct after trying to enter a restricted area near the Wells Fargo Center. Some in the group tried climbing a fence to gain access despite repeatedly being told not to enter the area, police said.
And on Wednesday, police said 34 were cited for obstruction for blocking traffic by staging a sit-in in a parking lot by the South Philly sports complex.
Earlier that day, 10 were cited for a sit-in staged at the Comcast Center, forcing officers to briefly close the building before ticketing and releasing the demonstrators, according to authorities.
Kenney stressed on Friday that thanks to the penalty reduction, there will be on criminal record attached to those cited.
We had zero arrests. I can’t state that enough, 100 people this week who would have had criminal record who do not. pic.twitter.com/LocuLZ6kcF— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) July 29, 2016
There were in fact some who were arrested, but not by the department's officers. They allegedly violated federal law.
Four people on Tuesday and seven on Wednesday were detained and charged by the Secret Service for trying to enter restricted areas, police said.
Overall, protesters and police were both credited with expressing restraint during the convention.
The city was looking to avoid a repeat of 2000 when the Republican National Convention was in town. At that event, 400 were arrested.