ACLU Sues City of Cleveland Over RNC Rules that Violate Free Speech

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
June 15, 2016 9:45 am

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CLEVELAND — The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a lawsuit in federal court yesterday seeking changes to regulations put in place by the city of Cleveland for the 2016 Republican National Convention. The lawsuit requests immediate revision of rules that the ACLU argues are placing unacceptable restrictions on free speech and other rights of people living and visiting downtown Cleveland for the RNC in July.

“The restrictions on speech put in place by the city of Cleveland are arbitrary, unnecessary, and unjustifiable,” said Christine Link, executive director of the ACLU of Ohio. “The current rules for demonstrations at the RNC are actively blocking groups from all sides of the political spectrum from participating in their government. City officials have refused to make proper accommodations to protect free speech, so we are asking the courts to step in now.”

The lawsuit seeks to reduce the size and regulations of the “Event Zone,” an area covering 3.3 square miles in downtown Cleveland where people will be subject to broad restrictions on their conduct and objects in their possession. The ACLU contends that these provisions will have especially acute effects on individuals who are homeless living within this area.

“The size of the event zone and absurdly broad list of contraband items infringe on the movement and privacy of everyone living or working in downtown Cleveland,” Link said. “These rules criminalize everyone from people who are homeless to grocery shoppers for carrying everyday items. They also provide opportunities for public speech that are completely inadequate for the size and importance of this event.”

The ACLU is also asking the court to act immediately in addressing the parade route and persistent delays in the process for approving permit applications.

“Delays approving permits are already having a chilling effect on speech. The city is withholding information that organizers need to finalize plans so people can come out and be heard as the national spotlight focuses on Cleveland. By effectively denying permits through attrition, Cleveland is removing the people from an event which is supposed to be a celebration of democracy.”

Documents for the lawsuit can be found here:

The letter from the city of Cleveland to the ACLU can be found here:

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