After surprisingly few people took to the streets of Cleveland last week to protest Donald Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention, this week’s Democratic convention will prove activism isn’t dead, with odd demonstrations and large turnout expected despite forecasted heat in the 90s.
Hinting at how the week is likely to unfold, the number of participants opposing or seeking to influence Hillary Clinton on Sunday alone — before the convention began — easily exceeded the number of protesters targeting Trump in an entire week.
The Sunday marches included an environmentalist procession police estimated atbetween 5,000 and 10,000 people and a march of more than 1,000 supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the socialist runner-up to Clinton in the primaries.
By contrast, the two largest marches in Cleveland had crowds estimated by their organizers at 1,000 and 2,500, though actual numbers may have been lower. Most others had more reporters and police than protesters. Astonished locals observed more than once that when one person voiced an opinion in public, a crowd of dozens would gather.
It’s unlikely to be that way in Philadelphia, which despite the searing heat has the benefit of being a short drive from New York City and the nation’s capital. The city has approved many protest permits and the protest-facilitating group Philly.fyi keeps a long list that’s not quite comprehensive and likely to be supplemented with unannounced actions.
Next up on the protest agenda is a march early Monday afternoon by a coalition that will denounce the “highly biased and unfair treatment” of Sanders during the Democratic primary. More than 7,000 people said on Facebook they’re going, and nearly 20,000 more said they might.
That march may turn into something of a victory parade given news Sunday that the woman Sanders fans hold responsible for the allegedly biased treatment — Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz — is stepping down as the Democratic Party’s chairwoman.
Along for the ride will be at least one — maybe two — enormous fan-operated inflatable joints, which cannabis activists led by the D.C. Cannabis Campaign will march south toward the convention center. The cannabis campaign, which has organized two recent smoke-ins near the White House, will then join a “smell the freedom” event at 4:20 p.m. near the convention.
Philadelphia has decriminalized marijuana, meaning if delegates smell “freedom” happening nearby, it’s unlikely there will be arrests. In most situations minor possession ispunished by a $25 ticket and public smoking a $100 ticket.
Watch: Footage from Sunday’s pro-Sanders march:
Later on Monday afternoon, the “March for Our Lives” put on by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, will march toward the convention’s main venue in South Philadelphia, with nearly 1,000 confirming attendance on Facebook.
The anti-poverty group on Thursday also plans to host a bean banquet before Clinton’s acceptance speech and then send people to the Wells Fargo Center to let the nominee smell what they think of her.
Cheri Honkala, national coordinator for the campaign, said some Sanders delegates will participate in the anti-Clinton “fart in,” but has declined to identify them until the day of the mass flatulence event.