Philadelphia looks to avoid mass arrests of DNC protesters

AP News
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Posted: Jun 06, 2016 11:14 AM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia wants to avoid a repeat of 2000 when it arrested more than 400 protesters at the Republican National Convention, only to see most cases end in acquittals.

Less than two months before the Democratic National Convention comes to town, a City Council committee has passed legislation letting police issue $100 civil fines rather than make criminal arrests for many nuisance crimes.

The offenses include disorderly conduct, blocking a street and failing to heed a request to disperse.

Police say it's mainly an effort to realign penalties for minor offenses in the wake of the city's decriminalization of possessing small amounts of marijuana.

But an adviser to the police commissioner told The Philadelphia Inquirer that one department concern was also how unruly protesters would be handled outside the DNC.