Philadelphia set for DNC following quiet GOP rallies

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – As Cleveland breathes a sigh of relief after protests during the Republican convention came and went without mass disruptions and violence, eyes now turn to Philadelphia, the nation’s fifth largest city that offers a bigger stage for bigger protests over a much larger area.

Cleveland’s marches and rallies ended quietly Thursday with two dozen arrests over four days. Philadelphia is cautiously optimistic its Democratic National Convention can follow in those footsteps while letting protesters have their say.

“Obviously the destruction of property or hurting someone is a non-starter, but you can be as angry and loud as you want to be,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

Several factors could make Philadelphia’s protests vastly different than those in Cleveland, including the city’s sprawling protest sites, from downtown to the convention site four miles away, and the sheer number of protesters expected, estimated at 50,000 each day.

Kenney wouldn’t say how many officers will be on the streets during the protests, but said the city’s “exemplary” police force is ready.

“It’s not easy to have someone screaming epithets in your face two inches away from your nose. But to be a professional police officer, that’s what you have to deal with,” he said.

Ambush killings of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, earlier this month stoked fears of violence and bloodshed at the conventions.

There was an “extremely heavy police presence” in Cleveland, with officers for the most part protecting people’s right to peacefully protest, said Eric Ferrero, an Amnesty International deputy executive director who helped oversee teams of observers in Cleveland. About 500 Cleveland police and thousands of law enforcement officers from around the country were assigned to convention security.

Organizers of some of the rallies and marches also said fears of violence kept many people away. Most crowds numbered in the hundreds, not the thousands.