Demonstrators protest GOP retreat; police prepare for thousands on Thursday

- Before the President can even get his feet on the ground, protesters are already making their voices heard. Hundreds were outside the Lowes Hotel in Center City Wednesday night.

They danced and they protested at 12th and Market Streets, right across the street from the Loews Hotel where President Trump will visit with GOP lawmakers on Thursday. The crowd of over 200 had the moves and a message.

"There's been such a heavy weight since Trump was inaugurated. So many people from so many different identities see Trump's inauguration as anti-ethical to their survival. It's really heavy and depressing to a lot of people," said protester Ted Passon.

As they danced and protested the night away, security was being ramped up and police equipment rolled out.

"You still try to look at every possible thing, get as much intelligence as you can from your colleagues from around the country," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

Protesters arrived early for the President's visit to Center City. City officials are expecting up to 10,000 demonstrators to converge on the city around mid-day.

"We have an obligation to ensure the safety of the people who live and work here and visit here as well, and the protesters, and obviously the dignitaries that are visiting as well," said Ross.

"We don't approve of Donald Trump's election. We don't approve of the policies that he and the GOP are putting forth," said protester Melissa Amilani.

Police barricades, SWAT vehicles and bike officers were already in place Wednesday night. Commissioner Ross is keenly aware of the protests and arrests that took place on inauguration day in Washington last Friday. He says demonstrators will be free to exercise their right to protest up to a point.

"Up until the fact that you break the law, in which case then that's another story," said Ross. "Then we will take appropriate action. So that won't be tolerated."

Protesters like Melissa Alimani say they're expecting thousands of demonstrators to make their voices heard. She believes protests here will be peaceful.

"I'm hoping so. We had great success keeping the women's march peaceful. My hope is that the same carries over to today," said Alimani.

There will be traffic restrictions Thursday due to the President's visit. For a full list of closures, click here.


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