PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The first batch of Democratic National Convention protesters hauled to the Federal Detention Center have been released without having to pay bail. The four people, who say they voted for Bernie Sanders, were detained after allegedly climbing a fence to get the attention of delegates and the media near the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.
Their lawyers say Philadelphia police initial gave them a minor citation, like 55 other protesters issued notices for disorderly conduct, which carry a $50 civil fine. But defense lawyers say while detained, they were subsequently arrested by the Secret Service, and charged with a federal offense. They contend that’s a double standard, and they will work to get the charges dropped.READ MORE: 'Can't Restart On A Dime': Opening Night Won't Happen Overnight For Philadelphia Theatre Company As Restrictions To Be Lifted
After a federal magistrate advised the four defendants of the charge against them, “entering a restricted area,” defense lawyer Trevan Borum asked “what good are First Amendment rights if you’re in the middle of a forest?”
“They deliberately segregated these protesters so their message couldn’t be heard,” Borum said. “They segregated these protesters, because the Democratic National Committee wanted to present the charade of party unity.”
Another defense lawyer, Paul Hetznecker, says erecting the perimeter fence so close to the AT&T subway stop “is a dangerous example of expanding government powers.”READ MORE: Federal Agents Descend On Hindu Temple In Robbinsville After Lawsuit Alleges Human Trafficking, Forced Labor
“What becomes a federally protected ground, and what is essentially protected by the First Amendment?” Hetznecker asked.
They were the first to be taken into custody since the convention started on Monday.
On many of the protest-related social media sites, there’s plenty of evidence, as videos and photos followed their exploits.
Over the first two days of the four-day convention, police say nearly 60 code violation notices for Disorderly Conduct were issued. Mayor Jim Kenney signed a bill a month before the DNC to keep peaceful protesters from facing criminal charges. The mayor made it clear to visitors that Philadelphia is not a “lock-’em-up city.”MORE NEWS: Maple Shade Volunteer Fire Department Unexpectedly Shut Down
During the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000, more than 400 protesters faced criminal charges, most of which resulted in acquittals and several lawsuits against the city.