CLEVELAND—The fatal shooting of three police officers in Louisiana added new concerns yesterday about security at the Republican National Convention as huge crowds were expected to protest and the city police chief prepared officers to deal with the open carrying of weapons as allowed by state law.
Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich rebuffed a request by the head of the Cleveland police union to suspend that law during the convention, saying he doesn’t have the authority to “arbitrarily” alter laws and constitutional rights.
Yesterday afternoon, hundreds of people lined a bridge leading into downtown Cleveland in a peaceful “Circle the City With Love” rally.
Participants standing on opposite sides of the bridge from one end to the other held hands and stood in silence for several minutes.
Later in the afternoon, a few dozen people began marching in a noisy “Shut Down Trump and the RNC” from east of downtown toward Public Square.
The morning began with Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams saying barricades have been placed at key streets and intersections in the city’s downtown before the start of the convention to thwart the type of attack that occurred in France, where a man drove a large truck into crowds, killing 84 people.
There long have been concerns about violent protests and clashes between those who support the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, and those who oppose the real-estate mogul and his inflammatory rhetoric.
But recent events, including a terror attack in Nice, France last week and the fatal ambush of police officers in Dallas and Louisiana, have heightened concerns about what might happen in Cleveland.
An issue on the minds of many is the possibility that people might openly carry firearms during protests, marches, and rallies given that Ohio is an open-carry state.
Williams said during a morning news briefing that Cleveland police commanders will inform those who choose to open carry what their responsibilities are under Ohio law.
“We try to get across to people, if you carry that weapon, you have that right to do it, but you also have responsibilities to the general public and people around you to make sure that everybody else is safe,” Williams noted.