Feds: No credible security threats detected in Cleveland ahead of RNC
By Evan Lips | July 13, 2016, 9:04 EST
CLEVELAND — Federal authorities said Tuesday they have found no credible security threats ahead of next week’s Republican National Convention, as the city girds itself for what is expected to be an onslaught of protests and activism.
Cleveland officials made headlines last month when they announced the city would be taking out a $50 million “riot insurance” policy. On the same day authorities held their press conference, Hashim Nzinga, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, told Reuters his group plans to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms when they arrive to the city later this week.
Ohio is an open-carry state. Nzinga said the organization’s intention is to provide protesters and demonstrators with protection against other groups that may potentially harm them.
Tuesday morning’s press conference was held at the city’s recently created Multi-Agency Communications Center. The center is situated at an undisclosed location. Members of the media have agreed to keep the location a secret. The center is asking the public to report any suspicious activity by contacting their tip line at 1-800-225-5324.
“We’re going to use every possible legal tool in our toolbag,” FBI Special Agent Stephen Anthony, head of the agency’s Cleveland division, told reporters.
FBI on technology available to law enforcement for next week’s RNC in Cleveland. https://t.co/0AoX4qmlBM
— toddporter (@toddporter) July 12, 2016
The bulk of demonstrations are expected to occur at the Cleveland Public Square, a recently redeveloped public park located between Quicken Loans Arena and the Huntington Convention Center, where GOP delegates are currently gathering to hammer out the party’s policy platform. Access to the convention center is currently limited to personnel with pre- and post-convention badges, according to a security official.
During next week’s convention, the square will also be home to a public speaking stage. On a hot Tuesday afternoon, however, the square appeared to be dedicated to serving city residents, as children skipped across a football field-sized splashpad while others relaxed on carpet of freshly-laid sod grass.
A parade route of sorts has also been designated for protests, although a security perimeter will prevent it from directly passing by Quicken Loans Arena. Protesters will be allowed to demonstrate in public spaces outside the perimeter, although city officials have stressed that permits are required to lawfully block traffic. According to a report last Thursday from Fox 8 Cleveland, the city has issued just four marching permits — including one for a pro-Donald Trump group.