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News :: Organizing : Police and Prisons : Politics : Race
Legal Support Needed at the RNC in Cleveland
29 Mar 2016
The 2016 Republican National Convention is being held in Cleveland July 18 - 21. This one's going to be a little different.
Unlike at many previous RNCs and other similar events there are no explicitly radical actions planned. Nothing like the protests at the 2008 RNC or 2009 G-20 meetings is in the works. However, this convention promises to be a fiasco for all new reasons, mostly related to Donald Trump. As has been widely reported, Trump is running a deeply reactionary campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, complete with support from a resurgent Ku Klux Klan. Not surprisingly, this has led to increasingly intense protests at his campaign appearances. Anti-Trump protesters have blocked highways in Arizona, clashed with the candidate's supporters in Salt Lake City, and forced cancellation of a Trump rally in Chicago. Trump has encouraged violence against protesters, even briefly offering to pay the legal expenses of one follower who was arrested for punching a protester at a rally. A pro-Trump group has sprung up calling themselves "The Lions Guard", a reference to a Mussolini quote recently repeated by Trump. Their stated purpose is to infiltrate protest organizing via social media (bad enough!), but numerous posts on their blog have advocated violence against protesters.

Then there are the Cleveland police, who have received widespread condemnation for the drive-by murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and the execution of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell in a barrage of 137 shots. These incidents are not just flukes. The Cleveland Division of Police has a long history of brutality and racism, and is currently operating under a consent decree with the US Department of Justice. The CDP has recently been taking a much harder line with protesters, kettling and arresting over 70 activists without an audible dispersal warning at a July demonstration.

All this threatens to come to a head at the RNC. Trump's followers are expected to flood the city, especially if he doesn't achieve a clear delegate majority and the convention has to be brokered. The Cleveland police, whose numbers will be augmented by as many as 5,000 outside cops, can be counted on to back up the Republican invaders at the expense of locals, especially given Trump's vocal support of police officers. Cleveland residents, the majority of whom are people of color, will be caught in the middle, especially if they choose to exercise their First Amendment right to protest. And just to make things even more interesting, the city is allowing the bars to stay open until four in the morning throughout the convention.

The result is likely to be widespread conflict in the streets, accompanied by mass arrests and violations of civil liberties. Facing down this perfect storm are two scrappy but under-resourced organizations, Cleveland Action and the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. The NLG has the responsibility for fielding legal observers to record police activity, both at protests and during random interactions with police. Their notes are often crucial when defending protesters in court against fabricated police testimony. Cleveland Action has taken on the task of setting up a jail and court support operation to track arrestees through the legal process. This will include a hot line number people can call from jail, a bail fund, a jail vigil to support arrestees as they are released, and much more.

With the convention less than four months away, preparations are only just beginning. This year's mideast region NLG conference, held at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University the weekend of March 19 - 20, featured visitors from Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, and elsewhere. Panelists discussed the intricacies of defending protesters in court, the dismal history of attempts to reform the CDP, and police behavior at recent protests, among other topics. Legal observer and jail support trainings were also offered. During the course of the conference one thing became glaringly obvious: These folks are going to need a lot of help. Jocelyn Rosnick, co-coordinator of the Ohio NLG, estimated that at least 100 legal observers would be needed, most of whom will have to be recruited. Parts of the jail support infrastructure are in place, but personnel to operate it are scarce. And the bail fund is starting nearly from scratch.

Money and volunteers are sorely needed. Supporters are urged to donate to the bail fund, and to travel to Cleveland for the convention to legal observe or help with jail support. Please fill out this form if you plan on attending the convention. Please note that trainings in legal observing and jail support will be held in Cleveland leading up to the convention.

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Re: Legal Support Needed at the RNC in Cleveland
10 Mar 2019
In 2016, both the Democratic and Republican conventions were held before the Summer Olympics instead of after, as was the case in 2008 and 2012. One reason the Republican Party scheduled their convention in July was to help avoid a longer, drawn-out primary battle similar to what happened in 2012, which left the party fractured heading into the general election and eventually led to Mitt Romney losing the election to Barack Obama. The Democratic Party then followed suit, scheduling their convention in Philadelphia the week after the Republicans' convention, to provide a quicker response.[10] On May 3, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus declared Donald Trump the presumptive nominee after Texas senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the race. The next day, Ohio Governor John Kasich suspended his campaign, effectively making Trump the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Trump was the first presidential nominee of a major party since Wendell Willkie, the Republican candidate in 1940, who has held neither political office nor a high military rank prior to his nomination. He was also the first presidential nominee of a major party without political experience since General Dwight D. Eisenhower first captured the Republican presidential nomination in 1952. This was the first Republican National Convention to be held entirely in July since 1980. Twitter and CBS News live streamed the convention via Twitter.[11]

On April 2, 2014, the Republican National Committee announced that Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City and Las Vegas were the finalists for hosting the convention.[12] In late June 2014, Cleveland and Dallas were announced as the final two contenders to be the host city.[13] Cleveland was selected on July 8, 2014.[14]

Host Committee[edit]
The 2016 Cleveland Host Committee, an Ohio nonprofit corporation with no political affiliation, is the official and federally designated Presidential Convention Host Committee for the convention. It is responsible for "organizing, hosting and funding" the convention; it also aims "to promote Northeast Ohio and ensure Cleveland is best represented, and to lessen the burden of local governments in hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention".[15] The Host Committee is composed of prominent Ohio business executives, civic leaders, and other community leaders.[16][17] David Gilbert, CEO of Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, is the President and CEO of the host committee.[15] Organizers have found it hard to raise the money needed to put on the convention, which is normally supported by corporate donations. Corporations that donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the 2012 convention but nothing in 2016 include JPMorgan Chase, General Electric, Ford Motor Company, Motorola Solutions and Amgen.[18] Reluctance to be associated with Trump, or concern that the convention might be disrupted by floor fights or violence, were sometimes cited as factors in the decision to withhold funds.[19][20] In July as the convention got under way, the Cleveland Host Committee said it had raised $58 million of its $64 million goal. They asked billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who often contributes to Republicans, to make up the $6 million shortfall.[21]

Quicken Loans Arena was selected in July 2014 as the host site for the 2016 Republican National Convention. The arena hosted the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 election, aired by Fox News Channel, on August 6, 2015. The convention was held July 18–21, 2016.[2]

The Cleveland 2016 Host Committee, who "facilitated construction of the 'cloakroom" space' for Republican lawmakers, which consisted of an "exclusive office, lounge and gathering space" built on the Cleveland Cavaliers practice court, received $923,100 from the Friends of the House 2016 LLC". Bank records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity show that Comcast, Microsoft, the American Petroleum Institute, Chevron, Koch Companies Public Sector, PhRMA, and other trade and lobby groups, "funded a limited liability company called 'Friends of the House 2016 LLC' to pay for the 'cloakroom.'[22]

Security arrangements and planning[edit]
The convention is designated as a National Special Security Event, meaning that ultimate authority over law enforcement goes to the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security.[23] A highly publicized online petition[24] by gun activists to allow the open carry of guns inside Quicken Loans Arena garnered 45,000 signatures; however, the Secret Service, which is in charge of convention security, announced that it would not allow guns in the arena (or the small "secure zone" immediately outside it[25]) during the event,[26] releasing a statement in late March 2016 saying: "Individuals determined to be carrying firearms will not be allowed past a predetermined outer perimeter checkpoint, regardless of whether they possess a ticket to the event."[27] The Secret Service has the authority to restrict guns, firearms or other weapons from entering any site where it is protecting an individual.[28]

The Cleveland Police Department received $50 million in federal grants to support local police operations during the event.[29] With this grant money, the City of Cleveland sought to purchase over 2,000 riot control personnel gear sets prior to the convention for $20 million, and the remaining $30 million is expected to go to personnel expenses.[30] Items such as water guns, swords, tennis balls and coolers have been banned by the City of Cleveland from the 1.7-square-mile "event zone" outside the convention hall by the City of Cleveland, but because of a statewide open-carry law permitting the open carrying of guns, firearms are permitted.[25][31][32][33] The Cleveland chapter of the NAACP raised concerns in March 2016 in a letter to city and county leaders about security at the Convention, writing that police were unprepared for a "possible mix of protesters and demonstrators brandishing guns."[24][34] The Cleveland Police Union also raised concerns similar to those raised by the local NAACP in March, writing that equipment and training for police was behind schedule.[24] On July 16—the eve of the convention—the Cleveland Police Union asked Governor John Kasich to temporarily suspend Ohio's state open-carry gun law so as to block the carrying of guns within the event zone,[25] but Kasich rejected the request, writing: "Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested."[25]

Before the convention there were a number of online phishing expeditions that may have been hackers looking for weak spots in the convention's network.[35] The computer network of the Democratic National Committee had already been penetrated by hackers linked with the Russian government, compromising, among other things, the database of opposition research on Trump.[36] On July 17, 2016, The New York Times reported that "Cleveland has assigned about 500 police officers specifically to handle the convention and it has brought in thousands more officers to help, from departments as distant as California and Texas."[37]

Protest planning[edit]
The Los Angeles Times wrote at the end of March 2016 that fears of a turbulent and volatile convention atmosphere were heightened because of a variety of factors: "a city scarred by controversial police shootings and simmering with racial tension; a candidate [Trump] who has threatened that his supporters will riot if he comes with the most delegates but leaves without the nomination; and a police force with a reputation for brutality."[38] Concerns specifically focused on the ability of the Cleveland Police Department to handle protests in the wake of the Tamir Rice and Michael Brelo cases, and a 2014 Department of Justice investigation that criticized the police department for having a pattern or practice of using "unreasonable and unnecessary force."[38] Left-wing activists have been preparing for the convention since it was announced in 2014.[38] In May 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to file a lawsuit on behalf of two activist groups, Citizens for Trump and a progressive group called Organize Ohio, asserting that protesters were being inhibited in their attempts to organize effectively by the city's delay in granting permits.[39] As of May 19, six groups had filed for permits, but none had been granted. Cleveland stalled on approving and making public the demonstration applications it received, while Philadelphia (hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention) had already granted an application.[40] The ACLU sued the city in federal district court on June 14, 2016.[41] As of May 20, 2016, groups that have filed for protest permits have included the AIDS Healthcare Foundation; Global Zero; Organize Ohio, a group of progressive activists; the Citizens for Trump/Our Votes Matter March; Coalition to March on the RNC and Dump Trump; Stand Together Against Trump, an anti-Donald Trump group; People's Fightback Center/March Against Racism; and Created Equal, an anti-abortion group. A pro-Trump group, Trump March RNC, withdrew its application after Trump became the presumptive nominee.[42]

Attendance and officials skipping convention[edit]
As Trump rose to become the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party, a number of prominent Republicans announced they would not attend the convention.[43][44] Of the living former Republican nominees for president, only 1996 nominee Bob Dole announced that he would attend the convention; Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush all announced that they would skip the convention.[45] A number of Republican Governors, U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators, particularly those facing difficult reelection campaigns, also indicated that they would not attend, seeking to distance themselves from Trump and spend more time with voters in their home states.[43] Most notably, Governor Kasich chose to avoid the convention, while Ohio Senator Rob Portman attended the convention but avoided taking a major role in its proceedings.[46] On July 8, 2016, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse announced that he would not attend the convention.[47] Many Republican senators did not attend the convention at all:[48] Senator Steve Daines of Montana, who would be "fly-fishing with his wife"; Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who said he had "to mow his lawn"; and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who would be traveling in Alaska by bush plane.[48]

A number of prominent businesses and trade groups, including Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, scaled back participation in the convention, sharply reducing their contributions for convention events and sponsorship.[44][49] In June, six major companies that sponsored the 2012 Republican convention—Wells Fargo, UPS, Motorola, JPMorgan Chase, Ford and Walgreens Boots—announced they would not sponsor the 2016 Republican convention.[50] Apple Inc. followed suit, announcing that it, too, would be withdrawing funding from the convention over Trump's position on certain election issues.[51]

Seating assignments[edit]
Seating arrangements for state and territorial delegations were announced on July 16, two days before the convention began.[52][53] The Ohio and Texas delegations were assigned to the back of the convention hall, a move viewed as punishment for the delegations, as they did not back Trump in their respective primaries (Ohio and Texas voted for Kasich and Cruz, respectively).[54][55]

Convention committees and meetings before the Convention[edit]
There are four Convention committees, which met ahead of the Convention for specific purposes under the rules of the Republican Party.[56] Each committee is composed of one man and one woman from each state, the five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, totaling 112 members. Those committee members are selected by the 56 delegations, which determine on their own how to choose their representatives on each committee.[57] Each of the committees met the week before the convention at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland.[58] The committees are as follows:

Committee on Rules and Order of Business (or Rules Committee)[edit]
Further information: Stop Trump movement and Delegates Unbound
The Rules Committee, which sets the rules of the convention and the standing rules that govern the party until the next convention, met on July 14. The rules it passes must be adopted by the full convention to take effect. This committee is regarded as the most powerful. It consists of 112 members, including one male delegate and one female delegate from each state, territory and Washington, D.C. Members of this committee are elected at state conventions.[59][60] The Rules Committee was chaired by Enid Mickelsen of Utah and Ron Kaufman of Massachusetts.[61]