Cleveland officials under fire over lack of security preparations before GOP convention
The mayor and police chief of Cleveland next week will outline what security measures they would take for the Republican National Convention, officials said after a civil rights group and a police union criticized aspects of the preparations.
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has drawn intense protests at campaign stops this year. At times the demonstrations have resulted in violence between his supporters and opponents.
Officials in Cleveland are gearing up for the thousands of demonstrators expected outside the convention, scheduled from July 18 to 21. The event will culminate with the party anointing the billionaire real estate developer as its nominee for the November general election.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson will join the police chief and other city officials on Tuesday to present a “comprehensive overview of security preparations” for the convention, the mayor said in a statement.
“Despite rumors, the Division of Police is prepared and is on track with its planning goals,” the statement said.
The announcement comes after the American Civil Liberties Union on May 19 accused the city of taking too long to issue permits to protesters planning demonstrations at the convention.
The city has since said it will allow application for permits starting on Tuesday, the same day officials will outline security plans.
The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association also has objected to certain parts of the city’s plan.
The union filed a grievance over an order prohibiting officers from taking vacations for several days before and after the convention. That prompted an arbitrator to order the city to pay overtime to officers who would lose out on vacation time, according to a copy of the ruling posted at news website Cleveland.com.
Cleveland officials are marshalling a force of about 5,000 officers, including police from other law enforcement agencies, to provide security for the convention, City Council members have said.
Council members earlier this month raised questions about the lack of transparency in Cleveland’s plans for the convention.
But Police Chief Calvin Williams has said the city must withhold certain information to stymie anyone seeking to disrupt the convention. He has declined to say how many officers will be assigned to the event.
Protests against Trump dogged his appearance on Friday in San Diego, where more than 1,000 demonstrators turned up and 35 were arrested, and on Tuesday night in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where protesters threw rocks and bottles at police.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Wilmington, Vermont, and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Editing by Franklin Paul)