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11 Ways to Participate in the DNC Without Being a Delegate

Philadelphia Activism
by Monica Williams Jul 22, 2016

The Democratic National Convention will draw 50,000 delegates and dignitaries, 15,000 journalists and countless other bold-faced names to Philadelphia for four days of politics and parties. Maybe you weren’t invited to the conversation with Chelsea Handler, the party with Lenny Kravitz and Lady Gaga, or the opening bash with Alicia Keys, but that’s okay. Here are some other ways to get political or just get in on the fun in Philly.

1. Protest.

The Philadelphia Coalition for Racial, Economic and Legal (REAL) Justice — perhaps the most vocal activists in the city this year — have had standoffs with the police and they interrupted former President Bill Clinton’s speech in Philadelphia last April. So don’t expect them to be quiet now. For the convention, the group is holding the Black DNC Resistance March Against Police Terrorism and State Repression.

“We are going to start at Broad and Diamond and going straight to the convention, and I suggest people move the hell out of the way,” organizer Asa Khalif told “We’re going to crash the party.”

Reclaim Philadelphia, partly comprising Sen. Bernie Sanders’ former presidential campaign team, is demanding the Democratic National Convention host committee release its financial records and names of its donors. Organizers also are calling for the heads of the committee to step down.

Another group with Bernie ties, Democracy Spring, says it has plans to disrupt the DNC with “mass civil disobedience” but isn’t being specific.

The city of Philadelphia will provide water and other amenities for protesters at FDR Park, near the convention’s main stage at Wells Fargo Center, although some protesters say they have no plans to be confined to a pen.

In perhaps the most creative protest, some Bernie fans will raise a stink — literally — with a “fart-in” both inside Wells Fargo and outside on the street, to coincide with Hillary Clinton accepting the party’s nomination.

Also, expect a little mayhem at the demonstration held by Westboro Baptist Church, which is protesting the Mazzoni Center, an LGBT health-care provider. The organizers of the Great Wall of Love are planning a peaceful blockade to shield the center from Westboro protesters.

2. Ride a bike.

If marching — or deliberate farting — isn’t your thing, consider Bike Ride DNC, a 12.5-mile bicycle ride up Broad Street, Philly’s main thoroughfare. Created by the organizers of the 2015 PopeRide and Philly Naked Bike Ride, this event is billed as an apolitical “party down Broad Street” to celebrate the political process. Glow sticks, blinking lights, and music are also welcome on the route and at the after-party at the finishing point.

And between road closures and civil disobedience, a two-wheeler might be the easiest way to get around town all week.

3. Hunt for donkeys.

Take photos of the 57 decorated Donkeys Around Town, courtesy of ArtJawn and the city’s venerable Mural Arts Program. The colorful fiberglass animals, painted by local artists, are stationed at interesting spots throughout Center City. The donkeys represent the 50 U.S. states, one of five territories, D.C. and Democrats abroad.
Download Scavify to your cellphone to find them and win prizes.

4. Lean in.

Women Rule at the DNC, a community of female leaders, will gather for cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and conversation on Wednesday on the rooftop of the Hotel Monaco. Featured speakers include journalists, commentators, and political analysts. Their event, sponsored by Google, Tory Burch Foundation and political-journalism organization POLITICO is a good place to network and check out newsmakers discussing the race.

5. Celebrate cannabis.

In recent years, Philly has moved to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. We’re not actually advocating that you light one up, but you can join the marijuana movement in Center City however you want to.

PhillyNORML will get the party started with a DNC Marijuana Welcome Party on the Monday before the convention. The nonprofit plans music, comedy, and speeches from cannabis advocates. The event runs collaboratively with a jaywalk by DCMJ, in which demonstrators will carry a 51-foot joint from City Hall to the convention site. They’ll get help from the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and East Coast Cannabis Coalition. Activists say they’re celebrating the Democrats’ embrace of marijuana onto the party platform.

It’s not entirely fun and games. The groups are also planning demonstrations and protests throughout the week.

6. Attend a panel discussion.

The small yet scrappy Philly Socialists aren’t officially part of the electoral politics but they’re smart enough to use the DNC to grab an audience. They’ve planned a series of “Socialist Convergence” talks –- on capitalism, gender equality, xenophobia and overthrowing corrupt political systems — with socialist organizations from around the United States.

Meanwhile, POLITICO will dive into economic policy issues , energy, diversity and home lending.

7. Attend a watch party.

Senator Sanders, the Obamas, Vice President Biden, and all three Clintons will speak at this year’s convention. You can tune in with POLITICO at one of their lounges, open every night of the convention.

Celebrate the Black Vote‘s watch party will feature appearances from actress Vivica A. Fox and crooner Howard Hewett. The $65 admission includes dinner and dancing.

For the convention’s grand finale — and Clinton’s nomination — watch it on a high-definition, 400-square-foot LED screen outdoors at the Schmidt’s Commons. Take a blanket and money for food vendors.

8. Watch a political flick.

The blanket will also come in handy at the Political Moviefest, a series of free movie screenings in Dilworth Park, on the west side of City Hall. You can get in the political spirit with classics like Selma, The Manchurian Candidate, The American President and All the President’s Men.

9. Fact-check the candidates.

Not impressed with Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention or some of the Democrats’ claims? PolitiFact, an independent fact-checking journalism website, and partner Billy Penn are hosting a live veracity analysis of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics.

All attendees will vote on the veracity of candidates’ claims in real time using a Truth-O-Meter. After all votes are cast, news teams will present their case for their own ruling.

10. Just eat and drink.

LibertyPA, EqualityPA, and the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club will welcome LGBT delegates with a happy hour on Sunday and all are invited.

On the first day of the convention, PhillyFeast will mimic the hugely popular Night Market food truck festivals that regularly pop up in Philadelphia neighborhoods. The festival will include a diverse lineup of locally-based food trucks, live music, and retail vendors in Old City.

McGillin’s, the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia and one of the oldest in the country, has patriotic drinks and menu items all week including the Dublin Donkey (ginger beer with a shot of Jameson), the Red, White & Blue Cocktail and the Red, White and Bleu Burger.

11. And party.

The Veterans’ Benefit Concert with the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band will support, celebrate, and honor veterans on Tuesday just blocks away from the delegates’ hotels.

On the following night, you can party with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and Emily’s List, the Super PAC for pro-choice Democrats. The bash, at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, is free with an RSVP.

Snoop Dogg will bring the after party to the party at the Democratic National Convention. The rapper will headline a “unity party” for Democratic donors at the Electric Factory on Thursday. A year ago, Snoop said he was supporting Clinton. “You know I like to be politically correct, but sometimes I’m politically incorrect,” Snoop said on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live. “But I’ll say that I would love to see a woman in office because I feel like we’re at that stage in life to where we need a perspective other than the male’s train of thought.”

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