After Dallas, Orlando, Baton Rouge … Will the RNC be Safe?

Police cars sit at a checkpoint amid preparations for the arrival of visitors and delegates for the Republican National Convention, on July 16, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio

The convergence of anti-Trump protesters, Black Lives Matters groups and leftists, has raised questions about safety at the Republican National Convention. The execution of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Black Lives Matter protests after police shootings, and Islamic terrorist attacks in Orlando and France, has only heightened concerns.

The New Black Panthers have also announced they are going to protest while carrying firearms. Stand Together Against Trump will be marching on Monday and Thursday, and Black Lives Matter groups will join their marches, reported the Boston Globe. Micah Xavier Johnson, the sniper who killed five officers in Dallas, was a member of the Houston New Black Panther Party, reported Breitbart Texas.

The Globe reported that city officials have been planning marches and rallies by groups of opposing viewpoints so that they occur at different times and places. White supremacist groups will also be there.

Citizens for Trump will be holding a rally and Breitbart News senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos will speak at the rally, along with other well-known conservative icons as reported by Breitbart News.

Bikers for Trump organizer Chris Cox told Breitbart News that his group was going to be there “to make sure that the delegates are allowed to exercise their right to peacefully assemble.” He said his bikers were not looking for trouble but had seen how paid protesters threw eggs at Trump supporters and were violent at Trump events.

Breitbart Texas reported on June 22 that Officer Steve Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, warned that cops and convention goers were going to be “sitting ducks.” He said the City of Cleveland was ill-equipped to handle the thousands of professional leftist, Black Lives Matter, and other protesters.

Officer Loomis made this statement prior to the Dallas and Baton Rouge police executions, the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings, and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, and before the Nice, France Islamic terrorist attack.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently said he was concerned about the “possibility of violence,” as reported by Breitbart News.

Officer Loomis told Breitbart Texas in June that Cleveland city officials were refusing to listen to the recommendations of federal security officials. He said the mayor of Cleveland “just does not get it” and that “Command staff had arrogantly dismissed concerns of officials from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

After the Dallas police shootings, Charley Wilkison, executive director of CLEAT (Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas) confirmed that the Texas officers who had committed to provide security at the convention would still be attending.

Loomis originally told Breitbart Texas that officers from other jurisdictions would be placed on the front lines but would not be allowed to use force. He also said officials in Ohio would not be deputizing officers from outside jurisdictions. This has now changed and the officers were sworn in on Saturday.

The Republican National Convention has been designated a “National Special Security Event.” As reported by Breitbart Texas, Agent Ronald L. Rowe, Jr., RNC Coordinator for the U.S. Secret Service stated during a City of Cleveland briefing in late May that the convention was a “very complex event” that would be dealt with through a “collaborative effort” of state and local authorities. The Secret Service is in charge of the “core strategy” but they depend on officials in other jurisdictions.

In June, Loomis told Breitbart Texas that he was concerned that there were not enough uniformed officers to cover the convention. FEMA said there should be at least 4,000 uniformed officers. Loomis says they are now “in good shape.” Cleveland PD Deputy Chief Ed Tomba told him there would be 3,100 uniformed officers.

Loomis said well-trained field forces will be at the convention. Six hundred of the officers are from Cleveland and they, like the other officers, will be serving in two separate shifts. Four hundred Ohio state troopers, and officers from sheriff’s offices all over the state will be helping. Uniformed officers from other jurisdictions and from out-of-state number around 2,500 officers. A number of the officers from Texas and other areas have special field emergency training. There will be four miles of eight foot high fencing around the “hard zone” of the convention center.

Officers in the mounted unit from Fort Worth, Texas, drove their horses to Ohio. Texas officers will also be on bicycles. One hundred officers from the Austin Police Department will also be there.

As to the National Guard Loomis answered, they will be “some here.” He said they will be guarding sub-stations and power stations but will not be in the hard zone.

As of Friday, Loomis was still waiting for alterations to be finished on 80 riot gear vests. The Cleveland police union has had to pay for the alternations in order to have the vests fit the officers.

After an Islamic terrorist mowed down hundreds with a truck in Nice, France, the existence of snow plows in Cleveland has raised questions. Officials say the plows will be used to remove debris. There had been concerns about whether they could be used to murder innocents if the wrong person obtained them.

Law enforcement officials said they are going to allow the free expression of speech and assembly and are going to avoid engaging in mass arrests. However, Breitbart News reported that the court system in Cleveland is prepared to process up to 1,000 people a day if necessary. CNN reported that the president of Black on Black Crime, Inc., a group that has marched with Black Lives Matter protesters, said he expected police officers “to be dressed up like RoboCop, with snipers on the roof.”

The hard zone around the GOP convention areas have been designated a gun-free zone. As reported by Breitbart Texas, the Secret Service announced in late March that guns will not be allowed at the convention.

Ohio permits its citizens to open carry but Officer Loomis has asked folks to leave the guns at home in protest areas. He said if officers are watching those who are open carrying, this takes them away from watching for the real threats.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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