Demonstrators still waiting for RNC permits

Posted at 7:36 PM, May 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-12 19:36:27-04

Months after requesting a permit to demonstrate during this summer’s Republican National Convention, one activist group is threatening legal action against the City of Cleveland for a response.

John Penley, a veteran grassroots activist and one of the founders of the Occupy Wall Street movement, is hoping to set up a “free speech sage space for anti-Trump protestors” during the RNC. 

Penley is well versed in the permit process. He said he applied for permits at the RNC in Tampa and Democratic National Convention in Charlotte with no issues four years ago. 

“They had no problem with it,” Penley told “They actually appreciated what we were trying to do and cooperated 100 percent.”

Penley said this time around, DNC protest groups have already received some permits from Philadelphia. But he’s gotten no response from Cleveland and no hint at a timetable for decisions.

“It’s ridiculous. We need to plan,” Penley said. “I don’t want to do an illegal occupation although if I don’t get my permits that might be what happens.” 

Organize! Ohio is local group that is also waiting for their permit, which they applied for in early March. 

“They’ve usually been granted within a few days,” Organize Ohio Director Larry Bresler told “This one is a different animal.”

Bresler said the delay is hurting their planning and coordination. They’re organizing a march that is expected to draw between 1,000 and 5,000 people.  

“It’s hard to understand,” Bresler said. “It’s to the city’s advantage to work with the groups to grant the permits in an expedited fashion that will ensure a peaceful time during the RNC.” 

City officials have said they can't approve any permits at this time, because the Secret Service hasn't told them yet which streets will be closed around Quicken Loans Arena.

On Thursday, a spokesperson told that they still have no new information. 

Now Penley and his lawyer, Norman Siegel, are considering legal action against the city if they are not notified soon. 

“Maybe we have to go to a court to ask the court to order them to give us a time table,” Siegel told 

 The ACLU is representing some of the groups still waiting on permit approval.