Republicans and other reasons to riot

Philadelphia and the GOP brace for a storm of protests.


Alicia Montgomery
July 23, 2000 1:11AM (UTC)

The City of Brotherly Love prepares to put on its best face for the Republican National Convention next week, but homegrown troubles threaten the civic show. The Associated Press reports that police misconduct, rumors of municipal strikes and plans for massive protests have put some city boosters on edge. Others argue that the GOP should have known what to expect from their urban hosts. "Cities are not theme parks," said Meryl Levitz, president of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. "Our feeling is that struggle is gritty. That's what gives cities their vitality, their focus, their energy, that's where you get improvement." Even protest organizer Jody Dodd, who plans to harness the energy of thousands of demonstrators for the convention, thinks that the event will end up highlighting the city's strengths. "We love Philadelphia," said Dodd, who works with the Philadelphia Direct Action Group. "It's going to be a great week."

Copping a feel for protest action
Philadelphia's finest not only spied on would-be demonstrators, they got caught lying about it. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that, though police officials pledged to keep officers off protesters' backs, cops were involved in extensive surveillance of organizations planning actions for the week of the Republican National Convention. Plainclothes police showed up outside private meetings of these groups and snapped photographs of people coming in and out. The behavior of local law enforcement fed the worst fears of protesters, many of whom are suspicious of government anyway. "This is just outrageous," said Michael Morrill, an organizer for the Unity2000 march scheduled for July 30. "If this is in fact going on, and city officials are lying about it, I wonder what else they're doing."

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I went to Philly, and all I got was this lousy beating
One thing the police at the GOP convention will not be doing is selling nasty T-shirts, according to the Philadelphia News. In the aftermath of a filmed police beating of a carjacking suspect, an enterprising local cop started selling T-shirts bearing a black and white shot of the assault, topped with the words "Welcome, America." For his effort, Officer Kenyatta Lee will be placed on desk duty, handling minor police complaints over the phone. His supervisor, Deborah Mateffy, will be transferred as well. According to a highly placed police source, Mateffy's inaction on the T-shirt sale contributed to -- but did not cause -- her removal. "She walked in on Lee selling the T-shirts and did nothing," the source said. "There were other problems in the district as well. This was just the icing on the cake."

Poll positions
Presidential race:

  • Bush 48 to Gore 46 (USA Today/CNN/Gallup July 14-16).
  • Bush 43 to Gore 41 (CBS News July 13-16).
  • Bush 46 to Gore 40 (Fox News July 12-13).
  • Bush 45 to Gore 41 (Zogby July 14-17).
  • Gore 46 to Bush 45 (Newsweek June 29-30).
  • Bush 40 to Gore 39 (Associated Press June 21-25).

    Third-party candidates:

  • Nader 5 to Buchanan 3 (USA Today/CNN/Gallup July 14-16).
  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 4 (CBS News July 14-16).
  • Nader 6 to Buchanan 3 (Zogby July 14-17).
  • Nader 6 to Buchanan 2 (Newsweek June 29-30).

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  • Alicia Montgomery

    Alicia Montgomery is an associate editor in Salon's Washington bureau.

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