I TEAM: ACLU files lawsuit over protests for Republican National Convention

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CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM is uncovering more about growing friction over plans for protests the week of the Republican National Convention including a federal lawsuit just filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU is asking a federal judge to order Cleveland to loosen rules for protest marches and begin issuing permits. Cleveland City Hall has said protest marches and speeches at a speaker’s platform would be restricted due to downtown security concerns.

ACLU Executive Director Christine Link said, “I think the security issue is an excuse for overly severe restrictions. It’s perfectly possible to have organized parades without trouble.”

The ACLU says the city’s rules and the slow process in issuing permits is equivalent to denying free speech. And the group says the security zone rules are unfair to the homeless living on the street.

The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of a group supporting Donald Trump, a group organizing a march against poverty, and the homeless.

Meantime, the I TEAM has learned another activist has asked the city for permission to have protestors camp on a city lot. John Penley would also like the city to donate water and toilets. He promises the group would clean up. Penley said by email, “I want to suggest that the City of Cleveland take a look at comments people are making on news reports about the upcoming Anti-Trump protests in Cleveland, and if they do it becomes quite clear that my asking them to allow me to set up a Safe Space for out-of-town protesters at the RNC is very reasonable and justified.”

Penley is waiting for an answer on that.

The I TEAM is also waiting for answers from City Hall to questions about the overall timetable for issuing permits. Multiple sources tell us an outside law firm has also been working with the city in dealing with the ACLU, but the city has not responded to questions about that either.

The ACLU says negotiations with the city failed concerning the permits. Now the group is asking the federal court to move this legal action on a fast track with the Convention just weeks away.

Continuing coverage on the Republican National Convention, here.