Cleveland Business Owners: We Are Stranded in the Protest Zone

cleveland_police and protesters AP
Cleveland, OH

CLEVELAND, Ohio- Small businesses in the immediate area surrounding the Republican National Convention are bracing for possible violence and criticizing the local government and the RNC for leaving them essentially stranded in the convention’s designated “protest zone.”

Breitbart News has learned that lawsuits altered the city’s designated protest zone to ensure that the protesters are within “eyesight” of the convention center, according to local business owners. Downtown Cleveland business owners only learned of this change a couple of days ago. As left-wing protesters plotted their “Day of Rage” demonstrations in downtown Cleveland Friday, business owners were on alert. Some are even closing up shop during the convention, as noted on paper signs adorning the front doors of these businesses.

“They can say all they want about having security, but then this was designated a protest zone,” said Mike Rubin, owner of Prospect Music, a local music supply shop. “This was going to be [inside] of the hard perimeter but, after the lawsuits and everything that said the protesters had to be within sight of the convention center, they moved [the perimeter]. They decided this area right here would be a protest zone. There is no point in being open. Our normal customers are not going to even try and get in here,” he continued.

Just three days out, local businesses are on edge as rumors of mass protests begin to swirl. One local business owner, who wished to remain anonymous, told Breitbart News, “We have our concerns but we feel the police are doing everything possible.” She went on to say, “We are not hiring our own security, we tried to hire off duty police officers but they were not available due to the convention.” As a precaution, this particular business is not hosting any outside events. They are concentrating on their daily business.

Rubin went on to tell Breitbart about communication from police: “We have not gotten any direct communication…[but] there have been meetings for months now. They are usually scheduled at times [however] when small businesses even have a hard time going to them. The only people going to benefit are the ones at the top, the hotels who are going to bring in the big money. The ball has been dropped in a number of ways, but in other ways, they have kind of reassured a lot of the people.”

Jeffery Burson, owner of Huron Point Tavern, echoed many of Rubin’s concerns. “I have talked to a few friends, they are mostly concerned about the demonstrators. [The authorities] have made it clear we are safe here. As far security we can only hope for the best, I hope that everyone is as cool as the 1.3 million people that were down there for the Cavs.” Burson went on to say, “The police made it very clear that they are going to be busy elsewhere, which I respect.”

In addition to security preparations, local bars and restaurants are also being told to prepare for the political invasion. The Ohio Liquor commission has contacted all local businesses telling them to expect double alcohol sales during the convention. They also warned businesses to order what they needed beforehand because they predicted it would be nearly impossible to get goods there once security measures goes into place.

As a sign of the types of precautions locals are taking, Burson has warned his staff to bring an overnight bag and a toothbrush in case there is a lockdown situation.