The city of Cleveland doesn't care if protesters are looking to Make America Great Again, #DumpTrump, Feeling the Bern or With Her. It doesn't want them anywhere near the Republican National Convention. Thanks to a ruling on Thursday, though, Cleveland might not be able to stop them.
A federal judge ruled against the city's restrictive regulations for protests at July's convention on the grounds that they would violate the demonstrators' freedom of speech.
Cleveland had planned to cordon off a 3.3-square-mile "event zone" from the Quicken Loans Arena, the site of the convention right in the middle of the city's downtown. There were some strict rules for activity in the event zone:
- A long list of items prohibited in these zones: canned goods, bottles, tennis balls, tents, sleeping bags, rope, string, tape, anything that could be used as a speaking platform … the list goes on.
- Guns are okay though, thanks to the state's lenient gun laws.
- Protests are limited to a parade route well away from the convention center between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Protest art installations are allowed at two public parks within the event zone.
But all of those prohibitions are now in doubt as U.S. District Judge James Gwin ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union, which had sued Cleveland over the rules.
According to Cleveland.com, Gwin criticized the event zone as being much larger than it needed to be, that the hours the parade route would be open were too restrictive and that having only two public parks for protesters' use was not enough.
The parties in the lawsuit are a mix of strange bedfellows. Plaintiffs listed on the petition include the groups Citizens for Trump, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and Organize Ohio. The rules have to be pretty bad if they bring together civil liberties activists, homeless advocates and fans of Donald Trump.
Cleveland.com reported that the city plans to appeal the decision, and that lawyers from all sides were trying to negotiate a less extreme security plan. For now, impromptu tennis matches, and massive protests, right outside the RNC are back on.