ACLU and Cleveland Plan to Meet Monday to Talk Security, Constutional Rights During the RNC
The ACLU of Ohio and Cleveland officials are to meet tomorrow to try to iron out differences over planning for protests and other issues surrounding the Republican National Convention. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the civil liberty group’s concerns.
Last week, the city spent hours reassuring national and local reporters that Cleveland is “all in” on a plan to ensure safety during the Republican National Convention, which is now less than six weeks away.
The ACLU attended the press conference, and the group’s senior policy director Mike Brickner says it remains concerned about the balance between First Amendment rights and the city’s concern for security.
“It wouldn’t be reasonable for parade people to just say, ‘Well, we’re going to parade wherever we want in this city’ because there are legitimate security concerns. However the courts have been very clear that it has to be close enough for the people attending, who are the intended audience for the speakers, to be able to see and hear.”
He says the city’s planned protest route – essentially the west-side Lorain-Carnegie bridge – and limiting protesters to about 50 minutes during off hours of the convention – don’t protect that first amendment right. The ACLU also is concerned about delays in issuing protest permits.
Another concern raised by the ACLU is the city'c confirmation that police will not be able to use body cameras if they’re in riot gear. The city says officers will most often be wearing shirts, slacks and shorts unless circumstances require protective gear.
Brickner notes the convention is coming at a tough time, as Cleveland is just beginning to implement reforms called for in a consent decree with the Justice Department.
“The community is already in a place where trust and faith in the police department is in short supply. And if there is another major incident at something big like the RNC, that’s not going to leave with the RNC. That’s going to stay in our community.”
The city says its approach during the convention will be one of community policing and engagement.