ACLU sues city of Cleveland, says RNC rules violate free speech

ACLU sues city of Cleveland, says RNC rules violate free speech

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking changes to regulations put in place by the city of Cleveland for the 2016 Republican National Convention.

The lawsuit specifically targets rules regarding free speech the group feels are unacceptable.

"The current rules for demonstrations at the RNC are actively blocking groups from all sides of the political spectrum from participating in their government. City officials have refused to make proper accommodations to protect free speech, so we are asking the courts to step in now," said Christine Link, executive director for the ACLU of Ohio.

The lawsuit seeks to reduce the size and regulations of the Event Zone, an area covering 3.3 square miles in downtown Cleveland. Restrictions on conduct and what people can have in their possession are in place. The ACLU contends the provisions will have serious effect on homeless individuals living in the area.

"The size of the event zone and absurdly broad list of contraband items infringe on the movement and privacy of everyone living or working in downtown Cleveland," Link said. "These rules criminalize everyone from people who are homeless to grocery shoppers for carrying everyday items. They also provide opportunities for public speech that are completely inadequate for the size and importance of this event."

The ACLU is also addressing permit applications.

"The city is withholding information that organizers need to finalize plans so people can come out and be heard as the national spotlight focuses on Cleveland," Link said. "By effectively denying permits through attrition, Cleveland is removing the people from an event which is supposed to be a celebration of democracy."

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