The national director of an organization that is flying pro-life aerial banners over the city of Cleveland tells Breitbart News the city denied Created Equal a permit for a sidewalk space at Quicken Loans Arena as the Republican National Convention gathers.
Mark Harrington explains that his group – which is running the #OperationRNC campaign – was blocked from the site of the convention from July 13-15, supposedly because the city of Cleveland had already set up its “security perimeter.” Harrington notes, however, that he applied for a permit at Quicken Loans Arena back on May 1, but was only offered sidewalk clearance at other areas further away from the convention site.
“So, we’re flying tow banners in response to that, and there are no flight restrictions so far as we know from the 13th to the 15th, although there may be some during the actual convention,” he says. “So it’s been an issue all along – with our free speech being respected.”
As Breitbart News reported, a banner bearing the message “Rescue UNborn Children” and a 15’ x 100’ photo of a baby aborted at 15 weeks will be flown over downtown Cleveland from July 13 to 21 for three hours daily, weather permitting.
Republican leaders are gathering in Cleveland Monday and Tuesday of this week to finalize the language in the GOP platform.
#OperationRNC wants to see the $540 million in taxpayer funding – currently given to Planned Parenthood – redirected to 13,000 federally licensed health clinics which provide true comprehensive women’s health care.
“We don’t believe the city has treated us fairly as far as giving us a permit in front of the Quicken Loans Arena, and we’re concerned there may be restrictions put on the airplane banner during the convention,” Harrington adds. “We’ll take one step at a time. If they restrict the airspace and make it impossible to fly over downtown, then we will come back later and fly the banners for weeks on end.”
Other organizations have complained about the city’s failure to observe their free speech rights during the Republican convention. The ACLU of Ohio filed a lawsuit on behalf of several groups in June, alleging the city’s rules for protesters violate the First Amendment. The civil rights group represented Citizens for Trump, Organize Ohio, and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.
As Cleveland.com reports, the ACLU requested that a court require the city to act immediately upon permit applications. In particular, the lawsuit alleges:
On May 25, 2016, the City of Cleveland issued a set of Event Zone Permit Regulations (“Regulations”) for the RNC. These Regulations severely limit the opportunities for members of the public to exercise their expressive rights during the Convention. The limitations apply far beyond the part of the city where the Convention activities will take place, and instead encompass a 3.3-square mile expanse that includes business districts and neighborhoods where people live, sleep and conduct their daily activities…
The ACLU also said, “severe limits imposed by the City on the rights of the people to freely assemble and to express their political and other views are arbitrary, unduly restrictive, and without rational justification.”
“The restrictions on speech put in place by the city of Cleveland are arbitrary, unnecessary, and unjustifiable,” Christine Link, executive director for the ACLU of Ohio, said in a statement. “The current rules for demonstrations at the RNC are actively blocking groups from all sides of the political spectrum from participating in their government. City officials have refused to make proper accommodations to protect free speech, so we are asking the courts to step in now.”