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Federal judge: Cleveland’s protest restrictions for Republican National Convention unconstitutional
Federal judge: Cleveland’s protest restrictions for Republican National Convention unconstitutional

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio [official website], ruled [transcript, PDF] Thursday that Cleveland’s time and place restrictions governing protests and marches during next month’s Republic National Convention [official website] infringe upon the right to free expression. After listening to arguments, Judge James Gwin ruled the restrictions were not “sufficiently narrowly drawn … to serve a significant governmental interest.” The city’s regulations [AP report] had initially placed a large portion of the protest route on a bridge, where there is lack of visibility, and set the hours for protest and marching at a time when the convention delegates would not be present at Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention is being held. The judge also suggested that the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio [advocacy website], which had brought the suit on behalf of two groups planning events, and the city of Cleveland meet and negotiate new terms for protests and marches. The parties did meet and have come to terms, and the court issued an order to dismiss [order, PDF] the case.

Many activists have also had concerns with the actions of local law enforcement agents in the Cleveland area. Local police officers and FBI agents have begun “door-knock” [Cleveland.com report] visits to political activists houses, with the claimed intention of ensuring a safe GOP convention. Human rights activists have stated they view the visits as an attempt to intimidate potential protesters.