Secret Service Won’t Budge in Moving Security Zone Farther From GOP Convention in Milwaukee

News & Politics

Republicans are livid with the Secret Service who are refusing to move the perimeter of the “security zone” at the Republican Convention in Milwaukee further from the Finserv Forum.

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The current “free speech zone” for the convention is in Pere Lafayette Park, a mere quarter of a mile from the convention venue. By comparison, the Democrats in Chicago have set up a free speech zone about three miles from the United Center where the convention will be held. There will also be several other “security zones” around the United Center.

Republican officials met with the Secret Service and strongly urged them to move the free speech zone further than a quarter mile from the venue. The agency refused.

The park’s location sets up a gauntlet that convention delegates will have to walk through to get to the venue. While most convention gores will arrive on buses, restricting the movement of delegates and guests because of security concerns is unacceptable, say Republicans.

“We have no information that there will be unrest related to that activity,” one Secret Service official said.

In fact, Milwaukee police are claiming the real danger at the convention is from Republican delegates.

Washington Post:

At the meeting, a Milwaukee police captain also said there were concerns within the community that Republican convention attendees might “terrorize Milwaukee citizens” and “harass minorities.”

“There is fear in the community,” the Milwaukee police official said.

Nick DeSiato, chief of staff for Milwaukee’s City Hall, said that “the captain’s comment reflected feedback from some of our community members.”

The Republicans in the room took umbrage at the comments.

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After several more fruitless attempts to get the Secret Service to change its mind, the Republican officials grew bitter. One official wanted all the media to go through a checkpoint near where the protesters will be gathered.

“Who does the messaging on the checkpoints?” he said. “I want to make sure the media sees it all.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote a letter to Kimberly Cheatle, the director of the Secret Service and demanded to know why the Republican weeks-old request for a meeting with Cheatle hasn’t been answered.

“I am deeply concerned about reports that the security perimeter around the Republican Convention site in Milwaukee may be creating a likely — and preventable — area of conflict between protesters and Convention attendees and delegates,” McConnell wrote in the letter. “The RNC and Convention leadership have conveyed they have made a request to meet with USSS Leadership several weeks ago and that has yet to happen. That is unacceptable and I request you personally ensure this meeting takes place next week so that these concerns are heard and adjudicated.”

The Republicans argued that if clashes occur, they would be blamed and it would distract from the convention.

“Do you watch the news?” one Republican official asked. Others cited pro-Palestinian protests on campuses that have led to arrests and some violence.

Jeff Fleming, a spokesman for Milwaukee, said the city “expects a well-behaved group of protesters from a variety of viewpoints.”

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Was Fleming being facetious? It makes one suspect that efforts to disrupt the GOP convention in Milwaukee would be considered regrettable by the Secret Service, the Milwaukee police, and civic leaders but roughing up a few Republicans might be justified.

Republicans should hire their own security people and tell the Secret Service to go to hell.

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