First Protester for DNC Arrives at FDR Park, Donning ‘Bernie or Bust'

Thirteen hours and one middle-finger later, Lynne Schwartzhoff arrived from Illinois to a hotel in Malvern Thursday night. 

By noon Friday, she was parked at the newly-erected fence separating FDR Park and South Broad Street.

"I wanted to familiarize myself with the area," she said, sitting in her car with the words "Philly Bernie or Bust" painted on the rear window.

Schwartzhoff, 52, a college professor, was making her way to a fellow activist's house in Mercantville, New Jersey, where a total of four protesters are staying for the week of the Democratic National Convention. She arrived 8:15 p.m. Thursday after leaving her home shortly after 6 a.m. On the road, a man in Indiana flipped her the bird, and a driver in a car with a Texas license plate yelled a profanity at her.

The DNC officially begins 3 p.m. Monday, but protests and marches are planned for Sunday. The DNC runs July 25-28. Meetings and protest preparations are already underway as Schwartzhoff can attest. She has come from Belleville, Illinois, to be a "peacekeeper" with a group called the People's Convention.

Training, she said, is scheduled for a couple different times over the weekend starting Friday night.

Thousands of protesters, with estimates throughout the last couple months indicating 30,000 to 50,000, will descend on Center City and South Philadelphia. A notable location is FDR Park, where the city has granted permits for massive rallies. The park is located across the South Broad Street from the Wells Fargo Center.

In recent days, some activist groups have expressed possible changes in tactics for protests next week -- noting the park demonstration location's considerable distance from the entrance to the arena where delegates will gather.

An emphasis on marches on Broad Street and Center City rallies, with several already planned for the plaza across the street from City Hall, is becoming a larger part of the actions expected next week.

Schwartzhoff said her work as a peacekeeper will include keeping people active during the demonstrations.

"Protesters who remain active are more likely to remain peaceful," she said. "It's all for peace. I'm glad to be actively participating."

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