Until the protesters emerged with a series of disruptive protests on Tuesday, the thousands of demonstrators who descended upon Philadelphia to protest during the GOP Convention remained largely peaceful and amiable.
Relations between the police and activists remained quite amiable during several large-scale protests in Center City on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
"Basically, I think they've just been watching us so far," said Jennifer Cassel, a protester who traveled to Philadelphia from Chicago for the protests.
More than 3,000 protesters shut down Broad Street early Monday afternoon when they marched four miles from City Hall to the First Union Center, with police dispatched blocks ahead of the protesters to reroute city traffic.
Though the protest was illegal and police had threatened that they would arrest protesters who walked in the street, they ultimately allowed the demonstration to proceed down Broad Street.
"We wanted to give these people every opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights," Police Captain William Fisher said while overseeing the arrival of protesters to FDR park at the end of Monday's march. "And you can see that kept everybody in a good mood."
And Emelia and William Emerson, natives of Detroit, said that relations with Philadelphia police were much better than relations had been with police at other protests they had attended.
"I don't think the police are too bad here, really," William Emerson noted.
However, while downtown has remained colored with protest signs and brightly painted puppets, the area in South Philadelphia's FDR park that police designated as a protest area has largely remained empty and devoid of activity. The police officers assigned to watch the protest area have spent the past few days relaxing while downtown officer have been busy overseeing protesters.
On Sunday, parts of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway -- near Logan Circle -- were closed in the planned Unity 2000 march, which also featured thousands of protesters.
The mood among activists was largely upbeat early in the week, with protesters shielding themselves from Philadelphia's heat in the Swann Fountain in Logan Circle. Activists played bongo drums and chanted "the people united will never be defeated" as they submerged themselves in the fountain's waters.
Several hundred pro-life activists turned up on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to meet the Unity 2000 marchers, holding signs advertising their anti-abortion stance.
"It's kind of manipulative," said Piper, a protester from Chicago, of the pro-life activists. "It's like saying 'well, you're wrong, but we love you anyways.'"
Protesters joined both Sunday and Monday's marches for a variety of reasons, with many speaking against the GOP, the death penalty, corporate America and for dozens of other causes.
"I'm protesting against Bush. I'm protesting for human rights, abortion rights, women's rights," Risha, a protester who came to Philadelphia from New York, said. "We're protesting against corporate America."
While the activists continually voiced their opinions this week, many weren't sure that the GOP would listen from the convention at the First Union Center.
"I think they can't really avoid us," said a protester with Billionaires for Bush who wished to identified as Alotta Moola. "Does that mean they will pay any attention? Not necessarily."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.Comments powered by Disqus
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