ACLU sues City of Cleveland, says RNC rules violate free speech

Posted at 12:13 PM, Jun 14, 2016

We are just about one month away from the RNC. As the days are slowly creeping away, there is still a lot of work to be done. Work not just by the RNC, but those who want their voices to be heard.

On Tuesday, the ACLU of Ohio filed a federal lawsuit against the city over regulations set for that week. spoke with one of the organizations involved in the lawsuit about their concerns.

"We're concerned that homeless people will be either displaced during the RNC or will be unnecessarily searched," said Brian Davis, Executive Director, NEOCH.

Davis is the Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless He is one of three plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

"There's nothing that says, that police will not harass homeless people," said Davis.

He wants a guarantee in writing, saying too many people could potentially be impacted by the regulated area which spans 3.3 square miles.

Things prohibited include: stages, large backpacks, even tape and string.

RELATED | ACLU of Ohio says RNC parade route violates free speech

In the video above, you can see the official event zone drawn by the city; it is dark gray. The pink spots represent where the convention will take place and that is why the ACLU and other organizations want to know why this space is so large.

Four out of five of the largest homeless shelters in Cleveland are in this zone. Also, more than 100 people who sleep outside.

"They need to be drawn in such a way so that they protect security but don't go any further than they need to go in order to protect security," said Freda Levenson, Legal Director, ACLU of Ohio.

The other two plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Citizens for Trump and Organize Ohio. These two organizations applied for permits that would allow them to congregate. They are still waiting for an answer.

"Large groups that need to make plans in order to have safe, orderly, lawful activities." Levenson said.

The ACLU wants the city to re-draw the event zone lines. The motion for emergency relief is now filed. reached out to Dan Williams, the spokesperson for the city. He said they "don't comment on litigation."


Groups filing permits to demonstrate during RNC claim city is taking too long to grant permits