Milwaukee Finalizes Security Plans For RNC Amid Protest Concerns

Milwaukee officials, in coordination with the Secret Service, have finalized security plans for the Republican National Convention (RNC) after extensive discussions with top Republicans. The city’s proposal to allow a protest zone close to the Fiserv Forum was denied, leading to significant changes in the layout of demonstration areas.

Pere Marquette Park, initially intended as a protest site, will now be part of the secure zone, limiting access to credentialed attendees only. Protesters will be directed to smaller zones at Haymarket Park, east of Fiserv Forum, and Zeidler Union Square, located five blocks away. This arrangement aims to keep protests at a distance from the main event, easing security concerns for the delegates.

RNC spokesman Kush Desai reaffirmed the convention’s commitment to safety and constitutional rights, saying, “Safety and standing up for the Constitution have always been topmost priorities for the convention. We look forward to continuing to collaborate closely with the U.S. Secret Service as well as local law enforcement to ensure the best possible convention experience for everyone.”

Protesters, however, are dissatisfied with the revised plans. Omar Flores, co-chair of the Coalition to March on the RNC 2024, criticized the chosen locations for being too far from the convention venue. “It’s completely insulting for them to offer either of those parks because they’re not within sight and sound of the Fiserv Forum,” Flores stated.

Despite these restrictions, the city will permit a protest march that passes the Baird Center and the Fiserv Forum. Flores announced that the protest group plans to release their own route soon, emphasizing a “family-friendly” protest that will not be confined to sidewalks due to the expected large turnout. He also expressed frustration with the police presence, suggesting that it might be safer if law enforcement did not intervene.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin has also raised concerns. Tim Muth, staff attorney for the ACLU, criticized the inclusion of Pere Marquette Park in the secure zone, arguing that it limits effective protest opportunities. He stated, “The large size of this zone makes it more critical than ever that the city takes steps to allow for effective opportunities for expression and assembly by those with differing viewpoints.”

The Secret Service’s decision to permit concealed firearms within the outer security perimeter adds another layer of complexity to the security arrangements. This policy has been implemented to ensure safety without infringing on the rights of attendees.

As the RNC approaches, the balance between maintaining security and respecting the rights of protesters remains delicate. The finalized plans reflect a compromise aimed at minimizing potential disruptions while allowing demonstrators to express their views. However, the ongoing dissatisfaction among protest groups suggests that tensions could continue to rise as the event draws nearer.