Organizers, city leaders focused on safety ahead of Cleveland presidential debate


CLEVELAND (WJW)– The first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will be in Cleveland Tuesday night. The organizers and city leaders said they are working to make the event successful and safe.

Sound technicians performed audio checks Monday afternoon inside Samson Pavilion at the Health Education Campus for Case Western Reserve University at the Cleveland Clinic.

“The production team is working on testing all of our systems, both primary and backup, working on rehearsals and working with all of the different participants to make sure that the event is ready to go. So that when the candidates arrive tomorrow, the venue is set and we are ready for the big event,” said Peter Eyre, senior advisor for the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Streets around the venue are closed to traffic and a heavy security perimeter was established for the debate, which is considered a National Special Security Event.

“I want folks to, especially our community members out there that are near the debate, if you see something, say something. If something looks out of place, give us a call,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams.

City leaders, including Williams and Mayor Frank Jackson, held a virtual news conference to discuss safety during the debate. Cleveland officers will receive help from the FBI and U.S. Secret Service as well as local and state police agencies, including support from the Ohio National Guard.

“Every person we interact with will be treated with the utmost dignity and respect… We are your neighbors and this is our home. Many members of the task force, including myself, live and work in Northeast Ohio,” said Lt. Col. Audrey Fielding with the Ohio National Guard.

City leaders said they welcome peaceful protesters, but will not tolerate the type of violence that gripped the city on May 30.

“People are able to protest, they’re able to demonstrate, they’re able to voice their opinion with the understanding that that does not include the destruction of property or the harming of people,” Jackson said.

The mayor said right now, there are no plans to put any type of curfew in effect. All closed streets will remain closed until 6 p.m. Thursday.

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