Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cleveland Releases RNC Protest Regulations

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 10:55 AM

click to enlarge Protesters making their way up Huron, in 2015. - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • Protesters making their way up Huron, in 2015.
Cleveland officials outlined protest regulations for the RNC Wednesday morning.

Two resolutions were scheduled to have been presented at a Board of Control meeting from Cleveland's division of public safety. Those resolutions delineate the official event zone, the official parade route and the official speaker's platform during the convention in July. 

Though the contours and boundaries of the downtown "secure zone" have not yet been announced by the secret service, the announcement of protest information was in an effort to accommodate groups intending to demonstrate.

The official parade route during the RNC will essentially be the Lorain-Carnegie bridge. Groups will have roughly 50 minutes to parade across the bridge (starting from the west end, about 500 feet from W. 20th Street), turn right on Ontario and then proceed on Orange Avenue to E. 9th, where paraders will then be expected to disperse.

Parades will take place from 2-5 p.m. on Monday, July 18, and from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the convention. Permits will be issued, said Cleveland's Chief Corporate Counsel Rick Horvath, in one-hour increments. The parades will be for marchers only, no vehicles. 

Horvath said that groups are welcome to apply for a standard parade permit in the city's neighborhoods, but that, due to the increased attention downtown, anything outside the official event zone would be difficult to obtain. As is the case currently, however, no special permit will be required to parade on city sidewalks.    

Two downtown parks, Willard Park and Perk Plaza, have been designated for use during the convention. People may apply for permits to set up objects in those spaces — tables, art installations and so forth. Those permits will be made available on a first-come first-serve basis. 

For both the parade and the park use permits, applications will be open next Tuesday (5/31) online. Applicants may fill out a form and submit it automatically or may fax it to the city or send via PDF. For groups that have already inquired about permits, Horvath said the city would respond in the order in which the inquiries were received, to apprise those groups of the new application process.  

Additionally, an official speaker's platform will be established on Public Square at the site of the Moses Cleaveland statue. Speakers may apply for a half-hour time slot. Slots will be available from 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. each day of the convention. The city will provide all equipment and manage the schedule of speakers.

Included in the resolution was a walk-on item pertaining to downtown vendors. The various hot-dog carts will be confined to three defined areas downtown. As we mentioned yesterday, the trusty Scene boxes have been banished from the Central Business District for the duration of the convention as well. 

A list of prohibited items has been included in the resolution, things like lumber and explosives and drones. Firearms, however, are not on the list. Per state law, open carry will still be legal. 

Horvath said the matter of firearms will be "purely up to the state," saying the city had no jurisdiction to regulate. 

Police Chief Calvin Williams said, in opening remarks, that the city and the secret service, who have been planning for more than a year, are ready for the events of July.   

"I can't stress enough that we are prepared for this," he said.

When questioned about those protest groups who don't apply for permits and who parade anyway, Williams said that his officers would be dealing with protesters the same way they have for the past year-and-a-half. 

"If it's a public safety issue, we'll deal with it," he said. "If not, well, people are allowed to sit down and take it easy." 

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