By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service
July 25, 2016 (Philadelphia) -- California's 546 delegates in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention could be met by hundreds of anti-poverty protesters on the convention's opening day. The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign is holding the "March for Our Lives" demonstration in Philadelphia on Monday.
Former Green Party vice presidential candidate and organizer of the march, Cheri Honkala, said the convention puts on display the disparity between rich and poor in the city and across the nation.
"We continue to fund wars and build prisons instead of schools," Honkala said. "And [we] decide to do things like have lavish parties during the Democratic National Convention as opposed to house and feed people in Philadelphia and throughout the country."
The city originally denied a permit for the protest because it is slated to take place during rush hour. However, with the help of the ACLU, organizers filed a complaint in federal court and were granted a permit. The March for Our Lives will begin at 3 p.m. at Philadelphia City Hall and end at the Wells Fargo Center, where the DNC is being held.
Organizers also plan to set up a shantytown called Clintonville - modeled after the Hoovervilles of the Great Depression - where the homeless can stay during the convention. Honkala says the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign is gathering materials to make Clintonville comfortable.
"We're going to take sheets, whatever we can to create shade, and create a safe space for poor people from around the country to be able to stay," she said.
The Department of Justice allotted more than $43 million dollars to the city of Philadelphia for security measures during the convention. Honkala said that money would be better spent funding mental health services for the city's residents and for affordable housing.
"But instead we're going to spend more and more money on police bicycles," Honkala said, "police monitoring every protester, every disgruntled person in the city of Philadelphia."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 percent of California residents live in poverty, when factoring in the high cost of living.