PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Protesters, party leaders and city officials were making final plans as Philadelphia prepared to host the four-day Democratic National Convention that starts Monday.
More than 5,000 delegates are among the 50,000 people set to attend the gathering at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia, which is expected to culminate with Hillary Clinton being named the party’s official nominee for president.
The former secretary of state and first lady has named Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate.
Protest groups prepared Saturday for events scheduled throughout the week that address health care, immigration, economic justice and other concerns. Clean energy supporters met in the city’s Kensington neighborhood to finish artwork they’ll carry in a planned march Sunday from City Hall to Independence Mall.
“The demonstration is here to send a message to the assembled political leaders, especially because it’s unique to Pennsylvania. This is a state that is kind of ground zero for the movement against fracking,” said Peter Hart, a spokesman for Food and Water Watch, a Washington-based group that promotes clean energy alternatives.
Meanwhile, about 30 anti-abortion activists who oppose Clinton’s presidential bid marched in West Philadelphia.
Temperatures that could hit the high 90s were a concern. Mayor Jim Kenney issued a heat warning Saturday for both residents and convention visitors.
“If you are demonstrating when a thunderstorm warning occurs, safety personnel will direct you to the nearest sheltered area. You will be able to return to your demonstration area as soon as the safety threat has passed,” he said.
The high temperatures were expected to stick around all week. Misting tents, medics and bottled water will be available at FDR Park and along South Broad Street, where protesters planned to gather.
Kenney urged demonstrators to refrain from camping for safety reasons, given the likelihood of storms and high temperatures, even in the overnight hours. The city did not issue any camping permits, he said.
For security measures, officials were banning large trucks and other vehicles from stretches of Interstate 95 and other highways in and around the city, and closing some highway ramps near the arena.
Downtown, the host committee for the DNC has wrapped many of the large construction sites remaking the city in heavy cloth, or “scrims,” emblazoned with famous political quotes.
“Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly,” reads a quote from President John. F. Kennedy at the under-construction Love Park.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell, the host committee chairman, called the scrims unveiled Saturday “a fun and educational way to showcase the city’s productivity while also beautifying the sites as we prepare for the eyes of the world to focus on us next week.”
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