[Hpn] Philadelphia rejects GOP convention protest application - KWRU fwd

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Thu, 08 Jun 2000 12:33:33 -0700 (PDT)

FWD From: "Kensington Welfare Rights Union" <kwru@libertynet.org>


Tuesday, June 6, 2000
Philadelphia Inquirer

The city's leading advocacy group for the poor and homeless
failed to win permission yesterday for a five-day vigil in
South Philadelphia just before the Republican National
Convention, creating a new dispute over protest rights
during the GOP event.

The Kensington Welfare Rights Union was denied a permit to
display photographs of homeless families and hold prayer
vigils on Marconi Plaza, at Broad Street and Oregon Avenue,
from July 27 to July 31, the opening day of the convention.

The application was denied by the Fairmount Park Commission.
A commission spokesman, Tom Doyle, said the plaza "in a
community of rowhomes . . . is not appropriate," although he
conceded no resident had voiced opposition to the vigil.

Cheri Honkala, a leader of the welfare-rights group, said
she also expected the city today to deny the group its
separate request for a march down South Broad Street by more
than 5,000 people on July 31. But she pledged that the group
would carry on with the protest march "with or without a

"During the Republican National Convention . . . the poor,
homeless families don't have a right to free speech,"
Honkala told reporters at the group's office in North
Philadelphia. "We cannot buy commercial spots, we cannot buy
billboards, we cannot buy politicians . . . and because of
that, they have effectively, so far, silenced any kind of
discussion of the issues of homelessness in the United

The group's application for its "March for Economic Human
Rights" - from City Hall along Broad Street to the First
Union Center, site of the convention - is still being
considered by city officials. Honkala said she was scheduled
to discuss it today with Joseph Martz, the city's managing
director, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

It was unclear whether the Fairmount Park Commission
consulted with police or city officials before denying the
Marconi Plaza permit. The police and FBI have said that
there is a risk of unruly protests during the convention and
that they are trying to confine most demonstrations to an
area in FDR Park across from the First Union Center.

"The decision was made by the commission that FDR Park is
better for them," Doyle said. "That's 330 acres there, which
is good in the event of overflow."

But the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and other groups
have said they would not use the demonstration zone because
they object to a police plan to give each group a specific
50-minute time slot.

The Kensington Welfare Rights Union is the second
organization to encounter trouble in organizing
demonstrations before and during the convention. In April,
Unity 2000, representing an array of groups on issues from
health care to gay rights, was denied a permit for tens of
thousands of people to march on July 30. The groups sued the
city in federal court, alleging that its First Amendment
rights had been violated, and was quickly granted a permit.


Kensington Welfare Rights Union
PO Box 50678
Philadelphia, PA 19132-9720
Phone: 215/203-1945
Fax:   215/203-1950
email: kwru@libertynet.org
web:   http://www.kwru.org
List-Archive: <http://libertynet.org:80/Lists/kwru-announce/List.html>

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