As thousands packed a the Ben Franklin Parkway for the Wawa Welcome America concert featuring hometown musicians The Roots and their surprise guest Lauryn Hill as well as Daryl Hall, Queen Latifah, Common and Joe Jonas Wednesday night, the Occupy National Gathering marched for the final time after a week of protests.
Dissenters claimed the day as the perfect time to air their grievances, as the Founding Fathers did in 1776.
A small group of Vietnam veterans protesting war pitched a canopy on the edge of Independence Mall. The local tea party association held a private event at the visitors center.
But the so-called #NatGat was the largest and most vocal protest.
After being pushed from Independence Mall, members of the Occupy movement assembled in Franklin Square for five days of activities and protests.
The July 4th activities included a staged game of baseball between the “99 Percenters” and the “Tax Dodgers.” Then at 9 p.m., hundreds of Occupy members marched through Philadelphia to City Hall, carrying signs and chanting slogans.
Two members were arrested, the group said. Philadelphia police did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation but an NBC10 photographer did capture one man being put in handcuffs.
Occupy, which opposes economic inequality and corporate influence on government, held a national gathering in the city since Saturday. Police rebuffed their efforts to occupy Independence Mall as the group settled in for days in nearby Franklin Square.
The five-day event has included workshops and speakers as well as several marches through the city; more than two dozen demonstrators were arrested.
Chris Gagnon, 20, of East Providence, R.I., said he came to the gathering to talk about how the movement can regain the momentum it lost last fall after authorities dismantled many Occupy encampments across the nation.
He said he's concerned about student loan debt, affordable health care and a reduction in public services -- not just for himself, but for his whole generation.
“I don't see myself having the same quality of life that my parents enjoyed,” Gagnon said.
Other Occupy protesters also let their voices be heard on a variety of issues during the gathering including women’s issues, 9/11 conspiracies, economic inequalities and the role of politics in regular life.
On Thursday morning, Occupy members plan to embark on a 99-mile walk from Philadelphia to Wall Street in New York City.
Organizers alerted occupiers that they must be out of Franklin Square by noon Thursday.
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