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Judge Strikes Down RNC Protest Restrictions Set by Cleveland

Judge Strikes Down RNC Protest Restrictions Set by Cleveland
Cleveland skyline (Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 24 June 2016 02:58 PM

Cleveland's restrictions on protesting violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge ruled on Thursday, less than a month before the Republican National Convention is scheduled to take place in the city's Quicken Loans Arena.

On Friday, Cleveland.com reported that the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which sued over the restrictions, and the city had reached a settlement on the issues. The news site said details weren't available. 

U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin delivered the decision, which will force the city to rewrite regulations aimed at confining parades to 18 different time slots with 50-minute time limits and following a single route close to the arena. The city had also established a 3.5 square mile security zone, in which platforms and large sound amplifiers were banned.

Gwin's decision doesn't affect the U.S. Secret Service-designated "hard" security zone around convention events and media areas, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Freda Levenson, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Ohio chapter, had decried the larger zone as "a black hole for First Amendment activities," which "doesn't keep us safe from terrorism."

The ACLU represented a group of pro-Trump organizers who sued the city, contending that the rules illegally restricted their right to assemble and show support for their candidate, the legal filing shows. 

Demonstration organizers also expressed concern about potential confrontations with anti-Trump groups they believe could become dangerous, Republican activist Roger Stone said in an article published by Breitbart.

City attorney Stewart Hastings argued that "Cleveland will be the most open convention for public speech in recent history," even with the restrictions. "If they want to walk up to the fence [outside the convention], put a bullhorn to their mouths and shout at the delegates, they can do that ... People are allowed to protest and give their speech wherever they want."

The judge disagreed, saying the "unduly large" security zone "does not seem particularly tailored to the security issue." Gwin ordered mediation, urging the city to work with the ACLU to rework the limits, a process that began late Thursday, Cleveland.com reports.

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Cleveland's restrictions on protesting violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge ruled on Thursday, less than a month before the Republican National Convention is scheduled to take place in the city's Quicken Loans Arena.
judge, strikes, RNC, protest, restrictions, cleveland
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Friday, 24 June 2016 02:58 PM
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