RNC "event zone" cut in half to 1.7 square miles
New steps to prevent confrontations between pro- and anti-Trump groups
The city of Cleveland and the American Civil Liberties Union have agreed to a deal that will halve the size of a heightened security zone outside July’s Republican convention.
At 3.5 square miles, the original planned “event zone” would have covered most of the city’s downtown, preventing large-scale demonstrations anywhere near the convention site. The new agreement shrinks the perimeter to 1.7 square miles, creating new spaces for the dozens of groups planning protests next month both in favor and against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and the party.
“This agreement prevents the 2016 RNC from being defined by an unnecessary conflict between freedom and security,” Christine Link, the ACLU of Ohio’s executive director, said Wednesday in a statement. “The new rules ensures that people have meaningful opportunities to express themselves on some of our most important national issues.”
The revised regulations also extend the city’s designated parade route and provide buffer times between permitted marches in an effort to head off potential confrontations between pro- and anti-Trump groups, an ACLU spokesman told CNN.
As a federal “National Special Security Event,” the convention hosts receive $50 million in funds from Congress to equip law enforcement and manage security in and around the convention hub, which will be held in the Quicken Loans Arena.
Citizens for Trump, one of the groups represented in the ACLU litigation, will now be able to hold a rally in Settler’s Landing Park, less than a mile from the venue.
Discussions to rework the rejected plans began last Thursday, when U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, scrapped the city’s initial strategy, calling the security zone “unduly large” and citing “constitutional problems” with its restrictions on the use of parks. Judge Dan Polster, who helped mediate the initial court-ordered negotiations, will remain in place to see out their provisions.
The convention’s Committee on Arrangements had sought to join the city in defending the previously established guidelines, citing terror concerns and the alleged threat of angry protesters seeking to assault delegates and other participants. But the court denied their request.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a press release, it confirmed the revised the borders, boundaries and by-laws.