RNC barricades meant to block protestors already causing congestion

Lane closures have begun ahead of RNC
Posted at 4:45 PM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-14 17:30:19-04

Protestors planning to send a message to Donald Trump will have to do it from several blocks away. On Thursday, crews began blocking lanes of traffic and installing tall metal fences around the Secret Service-protected secure zone in downtown Cleveland.

They also removed metal trash bins from the zone, which extends to streets directly surrounding the Quicken Loans Arena, Progressive Field and the convention center. It’s the first steps in creating a safe space for delegates, guests and the media — free of explosives.

“I’m optimistic,” downtown worker Tom Joyce said. "Things could go south, but this is Cleveland and we’ve got a new life line right now.”

But another worker downtown said he's more concerned that the barricades and lane closures made him late to work Thursday morning.

“Ridiculous. I just think it’s a waste of money, a waste of time,” Mark Washington said.

Those barricades will keep a lot of people away from the convention site, including protestors like the group Black Lawyers For Justice. On Saturday, they plan to convene thousands of anti-Trump protestors in Perk Park, located on E. 12th Street near Chester Avenue.

The group will not openly carry weapons, but said they plan to have security in case there’s tension with other groups.

“Obviously it’s a challenging environment. Obviously it’s outside. Obviously tensions are high due to the police killings,” protest organizer Malik Shabazz said, “But I want to let the city of Cleveland that Malik Shabazz is a responsible person. The city of Cleveland has given me this sound system and a stage to control the crowd.”

While uncertainty lies ahead, one business owner is banking on peace prevailing.

Josh Kabat, owner of the Cleveland Pickle sandwich shop on Euclid Avenue is expanding his lunch hours to breakfast and dinner as well.

“Everyone’s gotta eat,” he said.

With tens of thousands of visitors expected, downtown workers are encouraged to use public transportation next week to avoid congestion.


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