Ahead of Democratic convention, pro-Sanders demonstrators protest against Clinton in Philadelphia

Philadelphia: Thousands of demonstrators took to Philadelphia's sweltering streets, cheering, chanting and beating drums in the first major protests ahead of the Democratic National Convention, as the city wilted during a heat wave.

Throngs of Bernie Sanders supporters on Sunday marched down a main thoroughfare to show their support of him and disdain for Hillary Clinton ahead of the convention.

Chanting "Hell No, DNC, we won't vote for Hillary" and "This is what democracy looks like," the marchers headed from City Hall down Broad Street, the main north-south artery that leads from the city centre to the convention site about four miles away.

Protesters march during a demonstration in downtown on Sunday, July 24, 2016, in Philadelphia. The Democratic National Convention starts Monday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Protesters march during a demonstration in Philadelphia. Photo: AP.

Though planned for months, Sunday's marches came as fractures appeared in the party that had been trying to display a show of unity in recent weeks. Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned on Sunday as Democratic Party chair over an email suggesting the DNC had played favourites for Clinton during the primary. It was a stunning leadership shakeup as party officials gather in Philadelphia to nominate Clinton.

The Democrats had been trying to avoid the divide that was apparent in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention last week. But the hacked emails, published by Wikileaks, further fired up Sanders supporters, who long accused the party of favouring Clinton despite officially being neutral.

Sanders had called for Wasserman Schultz's resignation, and said on Sunday night she made the right decision for the party's future by resigning.

Darcy Samek, 54, travelled alone from Minneapolis to protest through the four-day convention. She said Wasserman Schultz has been a "miserable failure" who needed to be gone.

"Everyone kind of knew (the Democratic party was against Bernie Sanders), but that doesn't mean it will change now that it's proven. It's just more of the same," she said.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross and other officers walked alongside Sanders protesters. Ross said he liked what he saw on Sunday: a peaceful protest.

The heat wave that descended on the city was showing no mercy, with temperatures reaching the high 90s and the city under an "excessive heat" warning by the National Weather Service. It's expected to peak on Monday, the convention's first day, with temperatures possibly hitting 100 degrees, but feeling 108.


Updated Date: Jul 25, 2016 08:19 AM

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