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Philly Says No to Poor People’s March at DNC: an Interview with Cheri Honkala

The Democratic National Convention will take place in Philadelphia, from July 25th through July 28th. City authorities have issued permits for four marches during the convention, but they have thus far refused to grant a permit to the March for Our Lives organized by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. I spoke to campaign organizer, Philadelphia native, and former Green Party vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala.

Ann Garrison: Cheri Honkala, four permits have been issued for marches at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July. Could you give us an idea of what you expect there?

Cheri Honkala: Yeah, the only permits that have been granted and probably will be granted are just marches and events that are associated in one way or another with the Democratic Party. There’s an environmental march and then there are all Bernie events. The one march that has not been granted a permit happens to be my march. It’s a march for poor and homeless families, single payer, and stopping the school to prison pipeline, and the whole list. We’ve always had our marches on opening days of both the Democratic and the Republican conventions, and it’s called the March for Our Lives.

I’m sure that the only reason that I’m not being granted a permit is because I am not a Democrat, and I am really pushing forward this idea of independent politics in this country. And, marchers, all of us, are going to go forward with the march on opening day, which is July 25th, at 3 pm, in front of city hall, and it will probably be the largest march. I’ve heard from the Bernie supporters that many are planning to join us in our march.

AG:  Did the authorities try to come up with any better reason for not permitting your march?

CH: They basically said that the Bernie folks had permits for the entire town and all of FDR Park, and I have to be careful about what I say because I want to stay alive and there are very powerful forces out there, but one would think that there would be civil liberties attorneys stepping up and challenging this thing legally and there aren’t.

AG: Your march would be a non-partisan march, right?

CH: Yes, the march has Bernie folks, Green folks, anarchists, socialists, whoever. And the fact that the city is not allowing this march that is just focusing on all of the social ills of our country right now – to not allow that march to happen – is devastating beyond words. I would expect that of the Republicans. I didn’t expect that from the Democrats.

AG: What was the name of your march again?

CH: It’s called the March for Our Lives. It’s on opening day of the Democratic convention. Members of Vets for Peace are part of our security team, our peace team. Our marches always begin with people from the disability community that will be in wheelchairs at the front, as well as our elders and our children, and we will step off at three o’clock. We’re hoping and praying that we will not see a repeat of the Democratic National Convention in ‘68 in Chicago, but we know that this march is incredibly important. A long list of the most basic social needs are being neglected in Philadelphia while the city spends $43 million dollars to build up the police state and militarize the police, and we know that priorities are skewed in the same way all over the country

The March for Our Lives website is March4OurLives2016.org.

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Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who also contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, the Black Agenda Report and the Black Star News, and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City.  In 2014, she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize by the Womens International Network for Democracy and Peace.  She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com.

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