Protesters Antsy Over GOP Convention Permits

     (CN) – Cleveland officials are dragging their feet on approving permits for demonstrations surrounding July’s Republican National Convention, the American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday.
     Acting on behalf of Citizens for Trump, Organize Ohio and political activist John Penley, the ACLU’s Ohio branch told city leaders in a letter that they were violating demonstrators’ free speech rights.
     “Delays by the city are effectively blocking groups from exercising their fundamental right to political expression,” said Christine Link, the branch’s executive director. “Cleveland is using security planning as a mask to suppress political speech. The city’s decision to allow such long delays is creating unacceptable barriers for potential demonstrators, regardless of political affiliation.”
     The ACLU said it may take legal action if the city doesn’t approve the permits by June 1.
     The constitutional rights group claims it has met with Cleveland officials “numerous times” but has received no responses from its permit requests. The letter to the city mentions that Organize Ohio and Citizens for Trump have applied for parade permits.
     In addition, the ALCU asserted that Cleveland will enforce its parade ordinance but may not approve demonstration event plans until two weeks before the convention begins on July 18.
     According to the ALCU’s letter to the city, Organize Ohio is expecting 3,000 to 5,000 parade participants.
     “At some time – soon – the City’s delay in processing the permit applications will have gone on so long that it will operate as a constructive denial of the permits,” the letter states.
     Citizens for Trump reportedly expects 5,000 parade participants, along with more than 100 cars and trucks, 100 motorcycles and four horses.
     “Expecting groups to wait until July for a decision from the city plainly denies people access to this event,” Link said. “Organizers need adequate notice to arrange transportation, rent equipment and notify their supporters.”
     She added that would-be demonstrators may “have no choice but to abandon the opportunity to express themselves on a national stage or simply break the law.”
     The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the city has stated that it will not release the parade routes until it gets word from the U.S. Secret Service about the security perimeter around Quicken Loans Arena.
     The city did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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