A lack of permits and a confined protest parade space will leave protesters of all political stripes together in Cleveland and competing for rally space on a first-come, first-serve basis, documents reveal.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has filed a lawsuit, which is in part guided by Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone, over complaints of a lack of permit granting and a restrictive “event zone.” The ACLU is upset about the expansive size of the event zone, 3.3 miles, and the fact that restrictions of objects for security reasons will impact the homeless, Cleveland residents and college students.
The lawsuit also states, “the City will not issue any permits for any kind of public gathering or parade in the Event Zone throughout the Convention period, except for one designated parade route that lies along the southern border of the Zone.”
“[Cleveland] will not issue any park permits for any event in the Event Zone throughout the entire period, except for art and public installations in two small parks,” the ACLU lawsuit says. “The City will not allow anyone to place an ‘object to make a public speech’ — even the proverbial soapbox — anywhere in the entire Event Zone throughout the entire period.”
“The City does not have a constitutional duty to provide any group with space for their own amphitheater in a public park. Groups who wish to make such accommodations, such as at least one of your clients, are free to make such arrangements at a private venue,” Gary Singletary, chief counsel of the city of Cleveland said in a letter to ACLU obtained by The Daily Caller.
With permits, protesters would be allowed to have law enforcement protection of their demonstration.
“It is also a combustible mix to force Trump supporters and paid agitators into the limited space allowed as they propose is a recipe for violence,” Stone told TheDC.
Cleveland recently released a list of groups it has given permits to use and speak at the one “speaker’s platform,” and the two parks they offer. A glance at this list shows that the anti-gay military funeral protesting Westboro Baptist Church will be sharing a space at Perk Plaza on July 20 with Revolution Books.
Perk Plaza and Willard Park are the only two public spaces for which Cleveland will offer permits. These permits are also only necessary if the group is seeking to place public art or a public installation. “Otherwise, these parks or any other available public park in the Event Zone may be used by the public on a first-come, first-serve basis without the need for a permit,” Gary Singletary, chief counsel of the city of Cleveland, said in a letter to the ACLU obtained by TheDC.
One of the elements of the lawsuit is that the group Citizens for Trump has yet to receive a permit from the City of Cleveland.
“This is an outrageous abridgment of our First and Fourth Amendment rights. Trump supporters are being gagged — by a Democratic machine,” Stone, a former adviser to President Richard Nixon, told TheDC.
The group was originally planning on having a march of 5,000 people featuring motorcycles from the group Bikers for Trump. According to a letter to the ACLU from Cleveland’s chief counsel, the motorcycles would be a security issue.
“After the June 6 meeting, we discussed this issue with our safety forces and the U.S. Secret Service. Bicycles, motorcycles, and any vehicle containing gasoline or other fuel will not be allowed on the Official Parade Route,” the letter says.
Citizens for Trump was also originally planning on hosting a multi-speaker six hour event at a park, but will now be competing against other rallies for space.