CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - You can demonstrate all you want at this summer's Republican National Convention, but if you want to use a park, you've got to get a permit. If you want to have a parade, you have to get a permit. If you want to make a speech on Public Square, you'll need a permit.
Police Chief Calvin Williams addressed the department's readiness.
"A lot has been said (about) if Cleveland is prepared for the RNC in about 50 days," Williams said. "I have to tell you we are prepared."
At a City Hall briefing it was clear a lot of work has been put into convention planning. The so-called event zone is huge, stretching from West 25th Street on the west to the Innerbelt on the East, from the Lake to the north to the Lorain Carnegie Bridge over the river, and Orange Avenue downtown. Within it are security zones where permits are needed.
"There's a limited amount of space," Assistant Law Director Rick Horvath said. "We're hoping to accommodate everyone who wants a use, that is our goal, but at some point in time we could get so many requests that we're not gonna be able to accommodate them all."
Four years ago in Charlotte and Tampa, there was little trouble. Much of the reason was that police and the city put out the welcome mat not just to conventioneers but to protesters.
In Cleveland, they're calling them marchers. The approach here will be much the same, providing water to marchers, police tolerating protests unless they pose a safety concern or block traffic and even a stage and sound system provided on Public Square where anyone can make a half hour speech.
We're told that permits will be issued on a first come, first served basis and it is all being done online.
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