Cleveland

The State of Cleveland's RNC Security State

Protest zones, weaponry, federally-funded riot gear, miles of fencing...democracy in action!

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Bring tha noise
Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons

The 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) kicks off in Cleveland today, and with it, an unprecedented level of security provided by the first city ever to host a major political convention while operating under a federal consent decree because of systemic police misconduct. Everyone from local authorities to journalists to protesters are on edge and preparing for the worst—perhaps even worse than Donald Trump's nomination acceptance speech.

500 members of Cleveland's police force and 2,500 officers from nearby towns, in conjunction with the Secret Service, will be responsible for maintaining the safety and security of both the natives and the 50,000 out-of-towners who are expected to descend on the city, including delegates, media, and a whole lot of protesters. But you, the taxpayer, will be paying for that security in the form of a $50 million federal grant. (An equal grant will be spent by law enforcement in Philadelphia next week for the Democratic National Convention.) However, with the security budget becoming ever-more-stretched, Ohio residents recently got a $4 million bonus to their share of the RNC security tax burden.

The history of violence committed by both Trump supporters and opponents at the candidate's rallies over the past year—to say nothing of the spasms of violence and terrorism in various parts of the country (and beyond) over the past few weeks—has added a sharper edge to what was already expected to be a tense four days in northeastern Ohio.

For a while, a contested convention seemed possible, which caused Trump to speculate that "riots" could be possible in such an event. Now that the Republican Party appears to be begrudgingly falling into line behind Trump, such palace intrigue seems unlikely, but the cost of that uneasy peace is that Trump is the legitimate nominee of one of the two major parties in the U.S.

Regardless of what happens with the dog-and-pony show inside Quicken Loans Arena, there will be action outside.

To prepare for that, Cleveland has reportedly purchased over three miles of "Blockader" steel barricades, plus over 3,000 feet worth of six foot-high barricades, over 2,000 sets of riot gear, and 10,000 sets of plastic handcuffs.

Almost half of downtown Cleveland, roughly 1.7 square miles, will be under major restrictions as the designated "event zone." Within that area, according to the New York Times, everything from glass bottles and tennis balls to "large bags and backpacks, mace, loudspeakers, tents, coolers and canned goods" will be prohibited. The Washington Post notes that it has provided a "standard kit" to its staff attending the RNC, including "helmets, gas masks and flak jackets," but gas masks are among the items banned from the event zone.

Because Ohio is an "open carry" state, guns will be permitted in the event zone, but banned from smaller "secure zones," such as the arena, which will be controlled by the Secret Service. The Cleveland PD's union president Steve Loomis told CNN he is planning to ask Ohio Gov. John Kasich to "absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over." Kasich responded, "Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested," according to CNN. 

Cleveland's hospitals will be "siege-proof," according to New York Magazine:

Cleveland's hospitals are barring their trauma surgeons from vacationing next week, setting up incident command centers to centralize decision-making in the event of an emergency, and stockpiling enough equipment to survive 96 hours without re-supply, just in case large portions of the city fall under siege.

While protesting, the Marshall Project recommends not talking back to police lest you be slapped with a "disorderly conduct" or "obstructing official business" charge, and being mindful of posting anything that could incite trouble on the internet, as Cleveland criminalized "improper use of social media" in 2011. 

Reacting to the violence visited upon police and demonstrators at a protest in Dallas earlier this month, some protesters have said they will avoid the designated "protest zone" set up by the Secret Service, and instead maintain a presence at their rally location nearby. And if the prospect of being targeted by lone wolf psychopath snipers wasn't terrifying enough, Cleveland.com reports that the FBI has been knocking on local activists' doors, a coordinated action the bureau has described as "community outreach" but which one community organizer said "still implies that there could be consequences there."

The quadrennial political conventions are always "hot-button" events and the specter of 1968's unrest has long loomed over this electoral season. And while every four years we're told "this is the most polarized America has ever been," the temperature sure feels higher on the eve of the RNC, and it can't be solely placed at the feet of Donald Trump's awful, ignorant, incoherent rhetoric. Issues such as police violence, racism, and a populist anger at the American political and financial establishments have been brewing for years. 2016 just happens to be the year they all seemed to boil over.

We can only hope that the security state currently enveloping Cleveland runs effectively and isn't all so much pointless security theater or worse, an excuse to deploy the brute force of state power in the name of "security."

Reason and Reason TV will be reporting from Cleveland throughout the RNC.

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  1. Democracy doesn’t mean our betters in the political class have to allow themselves to be hectored!

    The protesters in Cleveland are going to be a particularly obnoxious breed of activist, though. And the same the same shit will be done at the DNC.

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    2. Off topic but I got one god damn thing to say about dead cops — a little wisdom that I have yet to see reproduced by anyone, anywhere, in the 24/7 comment blitz on all things cops and black people…

      DON’T FIRE UNLESS FIRED UPON

      Most of the truly damning slaying of unarmed black people by spineless cowards with a badge and gun could have been avoided by simply laying this burden of duty upon America’s police force. We require if of our soldiers in war zone’s when enemy combatants are neigh a guarantee; but on home soil it’s too much for the police? Cops lives are more important than the sea of civilians they wade through daily? From Philando Castile to Tamir Rice; none of these people would be dead if all cops dutifully obeyed one simple maxim.

      And seriously if some evil man fires upon police, send in the robot cop army in and destroy the villain — I will call that justice! But police need to have the god damn courage to not open up on children without crystal clear confirmation of firearms.

      And people will say, “oh you monster this will put cops lives in danger!” — No it fucking won’t. Philando Castile, the baton rouge guy, Tamir Rice; they weren’t actually armed, no cops would have died on the day these men were slain if the cops chose to not use deadly force; yet so many lives could have been saved, including every cop who’s been slain in revenge killings.

      DON’T FIRE UNLESS FIRED UPON — this is the answer to America’s cop/black problem.

      1. “Oh, was that just a backfire from a pickup? Easy mistake to make. Sorry guy, looks like you’re dead!”

      2. Castile,Sterling,and the kid Tamir Rice,all were armed. the kid had a toy gun altered to look like a real gun,and was pointing it at people. And he didn’t listen to police commands. Sterling was resisting arrest,and was a felon in possession of a firearm. Castile didn’t listen to police commands either,and had his gun in his lap.(he was also a Crip,and very close in appearance to an armed robbery suspect.)

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  2. What Cleveland is doing may be overkill or underkill, I can make that call.

    But, having adequate security and preparing for likely violence so that the “process” can proceed is exactly “democracy in action”.

    1. *”can’t” make that call.

    2. But curtailing people’s constitutional and natural rights is something else. And all they need to do to make sure the process succeeds (as if the convention means or accomplishes anything) is to keep the building where the convention is from burning down.

  3. federal consent decree

    Nice band name.

      1. Progressive Rock?

        1. Death Metal

  4. While protesting, the Marshall Project recommends not talking back to police lest you be slapped with a “disorderly conduct” or “obstructing official business” charge, and being mindful of posting anything that could incite trouble on the internet, as Cleveland criminalized “improper use of social media” in 2011.

    America!

    1. Notice how nobody ever says “well, it’s a free country” anymore?

      1. Yes. I have indeed noticed that.

        I’m sure they’re just so ecstatic about their wifi and medical advancements that they’ve forgotten to verbalize how awesome life is these days.

        1. Indeed, life is better now than it ever has been. Why are people incapable of seeing that?

          /Bailey

      2. This crap is not new. Woodrow Wilson (who the Progressives predictably adore) was a seriously fascist swine and his Attorney General, Mitchell Palmer, would eclipse McCarthy if Wilson hadn’t been a Democrat and the Left didn’t Desperately need McCarthy’s legend to obscure so much.

        It comes and goes. At least we can hope it goes. And, let’s face it, a lot of the crackdown on free exchange that we perceive is really the ability of the Progressive Left to gloss over their more fascistic tendencies breaking down.

        Or, we may be doomed, Doomed, DOOMED!.

        Anyway, I’ve decided to look at this clusterf*ck of an election as a prime opportunity to watch two people I despise tear strips off each-other.

  5. Regardless of what happens with the dog-and-pony show inside Quicken Loans Arena, there will be action outside.

    THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE, FEELS LIKE AND TASTES LIKE. IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, GO TO RUSSIA. And, quite frankly, if you choose be in Cleveland for whatever reason, you deserve what you get. And that goes for any time, not just this week.

    1. Boom. Better late than never.

      1. Truth bombs come when you least expect them.

    2. Just because I don’t like what democracy tastes like doesn’t mean I have to go to Russia.

    3. Oh, hell Cleveland ain’t all THAT bad. Good Gospel music in the Black Baptist churches. Good ethnic food on the west side. Decent orchestra. Interesting local art scene (look up Viktor Schreckengost). Stay the hell away from the Convention and the Rock And Roll Hall OF Fame?, and you might have a very good time.

      1. Good friend of mine used to live in Cleveland. Always had a good time there. Possibly the best steak of my life was in Cleveland, in fact.

        1. My family used to say “Wonderful place to live, but we wouldn’t want to visit here”. You need a year’s experience or a local guide to find the worthwhile things to do.

      2. Drew Carey?

  6. “The history of violence committed by both Trump supporters and opponents at the candidate’s rallies over the past year”

    $50 million is a small price to pay to avoid another Michelle Fields incident.

    After the Michelle Fields incident, will America ever be the same again?

    1. I know I’ll never be the same. Such brutality. Such horror. That was the day I learned the true nature of man.

    2. Grab it’s motherfucking arm

      1. That makes me lol out loud every time because the original statement was such an obvious tell the Ms Coakley was lying.

  7. I’ve been told several times that rally violence is always, ALWAYS, started by the right-wing whack jobs and that the police will likely be focusing their tender loving gaze on the wrong people.

    1. It’s the racists and the homophobes.

      There are different kinds of violence.

      Racism and homophobia are violence.

      The police need to focus on that.

    2. “How dare you scrutinize our violent ideologues! I mean, you’re only supposed to be beating up the other side!”

  8. I am generally sympathetic to these arguments. That being said, these people are not playing around anymore. After what happened in Dallas and now Baton Rouge, I don’t I would really want to be a cop at the RNC. It is easy for Reason to say they should not worry. They are not the ones who are going to get shot. This is really bad. I don’t know what we are going to do about it. The measure taken in Cleveland suck. But, after what has happened the last two weeks, for the first time in my life I can’t blame the cops for taking them.

    1. This is another one of those times when I hate to agree with John. I don’t think there’s some kind of secret united effort to incite conflict, but for fucks sake things are reaching new levels of shitty.

      1. Things are horrible. What is even worse is that there are crazy white people out there too. If this continues, it is just a matter of time before crazy white people take it as an excuse to start shooting back. Then where will we be? Our political class and media are utterly stupid and craven. They have no idea the kind of fire they are playing with or how quickly things can get out of control once violence starts. It just makes me sick.

        1. “They have no idea the kind of fire they are playing with”

          It may be a result of my perspective changing as I get older, but it really does seem to me that we have the most shallow, ignorant people running things. No character, no substance. No historical perspective on just how shitty things can get. As if America is immune.

          1. The previous generation had seen World War II and the Depression. So they knew in a very real way the lights can go out. The babyboom, our generation and the snowflake generation never saw that. So, they have this really bad habit of thinking the country will always be there and function no matter what.

          2. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
            Are full of passionate intensity.”

            Pillaging Yeats…

        2. Our Political Class and Media (is there a difference?) have been driving towards this for some time. I can’t say it’s conscious (I hope it isn’t) but the “War on Cops” that people have been prattling about is the consequence of a number of policy decisions;

          ? Politicians of both parties and nearly all factions pile on more and more petty regulations, and then expect the police to enforce them.

          ? Politicians from both parties give the cops dangerous and exciting toys, of the sort that might almost be calculated to escalate any confrontation.

          ? Liberal/Progressive Politicians often side with minority suspects, regardless of the facts on the ground.

          ? Liberal/Progressive politicians, and far too many others, give way to police unions, which always side with Cops under scrutiny, regardless of the facts on the ground.

          So, we have the police pestering more and more people with petty bulls*t, often while heavily and visibly armed. We have politicians fostering a sense of grievance in the poor communities while simultaneously creating real grievances through buttinski regulation. We have an escalating sense of being under siege fostered on both sides by the Political Class, because it benefits the Political Class. The “War on Cops” drives both the poor and the cops headlong into the arms of the Political Class.

      2. this recent outburst of racism was STARTED by Comrade Obama;
        his “Justice” Dept. sent teams to Sanford and Ferguson,BEFORE their marches and Ferguson riot,to teach “white privilege” and critical race theory seminars in the black areas. He literally instigated these riots and marches.He OWNS them. He hasn’t said any meaningful words to quell their anger and irrationality,instead he subtly (or not so subtly) reinforces it.

    2. I read something about the dems funding all kinds of loopy stuff just to create chaos at the RNC. They aren’t directly funding anything violent. But Soros wasn’t *directly* funding anything violent with BLM.

      Causing small amounts of chaos can easily lead things downhill in these situations. It seems likely this has crossed someone’s (maybe everyone’s) mind in the DNC.

      *Feature* not bug.

      1. You don’t have to directly fund anything violent. You just have to create an environment where the people crazy and violent enough to do something feel empowered to do so. The entire left is based on the threat of violence and the plausible deniability when it happens. This is why they hate the 2nd Amendment so much. It is difficult to terrorize and threaten an armed populace.

    3. Only, they were planning all of this well before the shootings took place.

      1. So what? That doesn’t make the situation any different. If had not been planning it, I wouldn’t blame them for planning it now.

      2. Doesn’t really matter. The same premise holds either way. They’ve been stoking various tensions for years. All they need is to promote a generally chaotic atmosphere. So they organize rather silly protests etc. at the RNC and wait for the magic to happen.

  9. Instead of shutting down large parts of a city ,which affects workers and businesses,I say,have these events in a corn field in Iowa. Tents,a stage porta potties and food trucks.

    1. They could replace all the speakers with classic rock bands and have RNCstock.

      Would be a waste of a good cornfield though.

      1. OK then, use a field the owner is being paid *not* to plant.

    2. An Iowa cornfield is a waste of very productive land. Even in mild drought conditions and without irrigation here in south central Iowa the corn is thick, even and 8+ ft tall.

      Better to use an Illinois cornfield instead.

    3. An Iowa cornfield is a waste of very productive land. Even in mild drought conditions and without irrigation here in south central Iowa the corn is thick, even and 8+ ft tall.

      Better to use an Illinois cornfield instead.

      1. You shut your Iowan piehole, corn is one of our strengths in Illinoisabad.

    4. Ha! As if the politicians would ever agree to stay in such heinous conditions. 5-star hotels or GTFO.

    5. Perhaps in the future, we will have some kind of technology that lets all of this happen remotely? Oh well.

  10. “We can only hope that the security state currently enveloping Cleveland runs effectively and isn’t all so much pointless security theater or worse, an excuse to deploy the brute force of state power in the name of “security.””

    The first scenario is the least likely, I’d put my money on a mixture of pointless and brute.

  11. As an ardent supporter of free speech, here is my message to protesters who want to disrupt the convention and shut down the speakers: If you get in, don’t all interrupt all at once. Because then you’ll all get kicked out together. Instead, spread it out over time. Make them work for it.

    1. If you “ardently” support free speech, why would you encourage disruption of another’s free speech (ie the convention)? Wouldn’t you be better off encouraging protesters to speak their piece at a separate location? Or do you just believe in free speech that you want to hear? I’ve always believed that your right to free speech ends when it starts to infringe upon someone else’s.

      1. There does seem to be an inherent contradiction in AM’s statement.

      2. You theosophists are too smart for your own good.

  12. Am I the only one that is suspicious of the motives of the cops? We do know from previous years that they purposely initiate “hostilities” (via undercover cops) in order to start cracking skulls. Why would now be any different, especially with sympathy for the police after Dallas and Baton Rouge? If they can make the “protestors” look like a bunch of raving psychopaths they can more easily achieve their goals of ramping up their funding/militarization.

  13. The Cleveland PD’s union president Steve Loomis told CNN he is planning to ask Ohio Gov. John Kasich to “absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over.” Kasich responded, “Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested,” according to CNN.

    Holy shit, Kasich said something I agree with.

    1. You aren’t using your imagination.

      Declare a state of emergency.
      Become dictator for a week.

    2. Steve Loomis, unsurprisingly, looks like Nazi SA Commander Ernst Rohm….

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_R?hm

      1. May he have a night of long knives.

  14. “history of violence committed by both Trump supporters and opponents”

    Tony “Fatso” Fisher, if that is your real name, please cease with the attempts at moral equivalency. The need for heightened security is driven in largest-part by the violent protesters and paid agitators who will be waiting; are you not expecting a complete $hitshow outside the arena?

    That nobody is expecting similar issues outside the DNC reveals where our social culpability lays.

  15. RE: The State of Cleveland’s RNC Security State
    Protest zones, weaponry, federally-funded riot gear, miles of fencing…democracy in action!

    Cops with bad attitudes and lots of guns. Protesters not allowed near the convention. Enough fencing to wrap it around the USA about ten times. People with tough questions for Trump the Grump thrown out of the convention site. Opposing views not tolerated.
    Refresh my memory.
    Is this the democratic or republican convention?

    1. Clearly, you’ve never been to a political convention. Protesters are given certain areas where they can protest and not permitted inside the convention facilities and usually are kept at a distance away from the facility, depending upon the city.

      The purpose of the convention is not for protesters to ask Trump anything. It’s not their convention and actually they have breached security if they are disrupting the convention. They will have the same set up in Philadelphia.

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  17. At the Libertarian convention in Orlando, the local police were hanging out in the hallways of the hotel for a while, but they apparently got bored and left after the first day or so. Funny, because there were lots of divergent opinions and disagreements, but since you can’t be a member without swearing off initiation of force, it prevents many problems.
    Our Chair did a great job of appealing to reason whenever things got off in the weeds. Members also intervened to administer first aid to other hotel guests in at least two instances I know of. I imagine the press and camera crews who attend both conventions can attest to our relative sanity.

  18. It boggles the (well, at least my) mind that your right to bear arms won’t be infringed but tennis balls? Safety first, kids!

  19. It boggles the (well, at least my) mind that your right to bear arms won’t be infringed but tennis balls? Safety first, kids!

    1. a tennis ball can be turned into a grenade. but even a thrown tennis ball hitting you in the face can hurt. people have been blinded by less. (like a thrown egg)

  20. They can take my tennis balls when they pry them from my cold dead fingers

  21. Cleveland’s police problems that resulted in the consent decree was due to the handy union tool called binding arbitration. That’s union code for “government job for life.” It’s the process by which it’s impossible to fire a bad cop or keep one fired. Binding arbitration, of course, is hugely popular with unions and the Democrats who love them fill out and sign their candidate questionnaires and swear they will approve binding arbitration. Its what enables Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to complaint about not being able to fire bad cops because of the “the process,” while he approves the contracts that create “the process.” The taxpayers pick up the tab for the lawsuits.

    So all the problems with cops going on out here is not a racial problem. It’s a union contract problem. Government employees should not be given jobs for life. Elected officials should not be approving contracts that give them jobs for life, either. We need some serous civil service reform.

  22. We can even create playlists of them so it will be very easy to find our videos which we like. We can also download those videos and can watch them offline. Showbox for pc

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