As Obama speaks, chaos and arrests outside DNC
PHILADELPHIA—As President Barack Obama took the stage at the Democratic National Convention inside the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night, a chaotic situation erupted nearby that led to seven arrests.
Protesters stormed security barricades at 10:50 p.m. outside the center where the convention was being held, prompting some police officers to take out batons. No one appeared to be struck.
The U.S, Secret Service said seven people entered through the outer perimeter fence and into a Secret Service designated secure zone. They were detained without incident by Philadelphia police and are expected to be federally charged with entering a restricted area.
At one point, protesters lit an American flag on fire, causing an unexpected emergency when a woman briefly ignited after trying to step on the flag.
Kelsey Helt, 20, and Trevor Minter, 21, looked on as altercations between police and protesters broke out.
“Everything was peaceful, and then you had a few people step in to cause trouble,” Helt said. “Then there was just chaos.”
“There was a small group that went into this with the intention of getting arrested,” Minter added. “But now they’re lumped in with the rest of the peaceful protesters.”
At one point, a 29-year-old government worker from Alabama hung from a pole above the crowd, saying he opposes violence but supports destruction of property in name of protest against “corrupt” political system.
“I would love to burn down a bank,” he said.
After arguing with the protesters who burned the red and black American flag, the peaceful protesters led a singing march up and down Broad Street before sitting down and holding hands.
“They burn flags. We burn sage,” said a protester with a megaphone as others sat down on Broad Street Wednesday night.
The seven people arrested were taken to the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center and will have initial appearances before a magistrate Thursday.
Late Tuesday, four people were arrested for also scaling a perimeter fence, bringing the total arrests during the convention to 11.
A total of 69 tickets had been issued as of Wednesday afternoon, including 10 citations for disorderly conduct related to a sit-in downtown in protest of the convention.
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