DNC is Just Like RNC, Protesters Say, Vowing Anti-Establishment Rallies All Week | NBC 10 Philadelphia
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DNC is Just Like RNC, Protesters Say, Vowing Anti-Establishment Rallies All Week

Protesters outside City Hall Wednesday demanded more transparency at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The group, made up of former Bernie Sanders campaign staffers and volunteers, called for full disclosure of DNC financial records. Six people received citations for failure to disperse at the rally. (Published Thursday, July 21, 2016)

Kitty Heite remembers the Republican National Convention well.

She protested the whole week in August 2000 when the RNC came to Philadelphia.

Next week, Heite will be at it again -- marching and protesting with a coalition of activist organizations called the DNC Action Committee. To the longtime activist, it feels the same, except with a different political party.

“Sixteen years ago, we protested the prison industrial complex. That's only gotten worse. Inequality in wealth? It's gotten worse. Healthcare? Schools?” Heite asked, reeling off causes that protesters hope to rouse Democrats with during the DNC. “Nothing’s gotten better. It's gotten worse.”

A dozen activist organizations who make up the DNC Action Committee came together Wednesday at the Center City liberal stronghold Arch Street United Methodist Church to make two things clear: There will be numerous marches and rallies throughout Philadelphia July 24-28 and Hillary Clinton is not part of the solution.

“We are taking our demands to the streets, the convention floor, and the entire nation,” committee leader Brianna Jones said at the church. “Make no mistake. There will be protests during the DNC.”

Groups included in the coalition include Black Lives Matter, Democracy Spring, Reclaim Philadelphia and Poor People’s Economic Rights Campaign. All of the groups have planned protests and marches.

Jones said the DNC Action Committee has been meeting every other Sunday since the beginning of the year in preparation for the convention.

Several leaders spoke of support for Bernie Sanders, but Heite said the coalition is not about a particular politician. It's about the issues affecting a vast number of Americans, she said.

While the group’s message may not be centered around Sanders, who last week endorsed his rival Hillary Clinton for the party nomination, many showed strong animosity for the woman expected to formally receive the party nod Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Cheri Honkala, the leader of the Poor People’s Economic Rights Campaign, was among the more adamant and went so far as to suggest Clinton has spies infiltrating the ranks of protest groups.

Honkala said she will vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in the November general election. Many others at the meeting said they would not vote for Clinton in November.

“The Democrats are creating loyal opposition because they don’t want an exodus from the Democratic Party,” Honkala said, adding that some so-called protesters are “on the payroll” of the Clinton campaign.

Members of Reclaim Philly, which describes itself as an organization of "former Bernie Sanders campaign staffers and volunteers, as well as concerned Democrats," also held a rally outside Philly's City Hall around 4 p.m. Wednesday. The group marched to the headquarters of Ballard Spahr LLP at 17th and Market streets and called for the resignation of DNC Host Committee members Daniel Hilfterty, David Cohen and Ed Rendell.

"Reclaim Philadelphia believes that without transparency and public accountability about who funds the DNC and what moneyed interests gain access to elected officials at the Convention, the Party leadership cannot credibly pledge to enact a progressive policy agenda that would raise standards of living for the vast majority of working-class Americans," a spokesperson for the group wrote. "Reclaim Philadelphia has attempted to discuss its demands for transparency with the above-mentioned host committee members on several prior occasions and has so far not received any satisfactory reply."

During the protest, six people received citations for allegedly failing to disperse.