Cleveland changes plans for Republican National Convention amid lawsuit
A lawsuit filed against Cleveland has spurred the city to make changes to its security plan for the upcoming Republican National Convention.
Cleveland has now reduced the size of the RNC’s event zone by nearly 51 percent, according to USA Today. The event zone carries specific restrictions such as bans on canned goods and glass bottles, which the ACLU had claimed could criminalize those who shopped at grocery stores within the event zone, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Additionally, the city altered the planned parade route for the event to pass more closely to Quicken Loans Arena, USA Today reports. The parade route is a designated protester marching route, and the new rules have extended parade times across the convention’s duration, Cleveland.com reports. With the alteration, protesters will be able to be seen more clearly, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Other rule changes include the ability to use the natural environment or existing raised objects as speaking platforms, according to Cleveland.com.
"This agreement prevents the 2016 RNC from being defined by an unnecessary conflict between freedom and security,” ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link said in a written statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the federal lawsuit in mid June, claiming that Cleveland’s security rules violated demonstrators’ and attendees’ free speech rights, Cleveland.com reports. The grounds for the suit included concerns about the event zone’s size, the parade area’s route, and that the city hadn’t approved protest permits filed months ago.
"The restrictions on speech put in place by the city of Cleveland are arbitrary, unnecessary, and unjustifiable," Link said in another written statement. "The current rules for demonstrations at the RNC are actively blocking groups from all sides of the political spectrum from participating in their government."
The Justice Department also sent a unit of law enforcement officials from across the country to meet with Cleveland area police in order to help them prepare for the RNC, USA Today reports.
The amount of violence at presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s recent rallies has prompted anxiety about the potential chaos at the RNC and Cleveland’s potential unpreparedness to handle it, the Washington Post notes.
The Republican National Convention will be held at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland between July 18 and July 21. The convention's site claims it will host nearly 2,470 delegates and 2,302 alternate delegates from every state, Washington and five U.S. territories.