Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Day of marches before Democratic National Convention

Published:Monday | July 25, 2016 | 7:00 AM
In this September 30, 2013 file photo, National Park Service guide Terry Papavasilis talks with visitors about the Liberty Bell at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. Democrats are set to begin their convention today in a city that symbolises both the nation's promise and its shortcomings. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

PHILADELPHIA (AP)

Police officers were posted at street corners in downtown Philadelphia as the first protesters hit the city's sweltering streets yesterday ahead of the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

Several demonstrations were planned, including an anti-fracking march from City Hall to Independence Mall, near the Liberty Bell. Bernie Sanders supporters expected about 3,000 protesters will join them in a march from City Hall to a park near the convention site in the afternoon.

The first march Sunday had the perennial problem in Philadelphia: parking. 'DC to DNC' organiser Ed Higgins said finding parking spots and organising the crowd delayed his group's march, which got going about an hour late.

The group of about a dozen marchers walked on sidewalks from near convention site up toward the Liberty Bell. One played 'This Land is Your Land' on bagpipes as the group weaved around people eating brunch at sidewalk cafes and others walking dogs. Higgins is part of a pro-Sanders group that walked 140 miles over nine days from Washington, arriving Saturday evening.

Earlier Sunday morning, a stage was being readied for rallies in FDR Park - the designated protest zone across the heavily barricaded street from the Wells Fargo Center - and people who camped out against a city edict readied for their actions around the city.

The protests come as Sanders called for the head of the DNC to step down after leaked emails suggested the party played favourites during the presidential primary.

Emails posted to the website Wikileaks show that at least some DNC officials were looking at ways to undercut Sanders' campaign, including questioning his religious beliefs.

Sanders told ABC's "This Week" Sunday morning that the party chairwoman, Rep., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, should resign immediately.

More than 5,000 delegates are among the 50,000 people set to attend the gathering at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia, which is expected to culminate with Clinton being named the party's official nominee for president.

The former secretary of state and first lady has named Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate.