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Cleveland's Restrictions at GOP Convention Site Spur Lawsuit

FILE - A worker cleans the sidewalk in front of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, site of this year's Republican National Convention.
FILE - A worker cleans the sidewalk in front of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, site of this year's Republican National Convention.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the city of Cleveland, site of next month's Republican National Convention, accusing the city of illegally restricting areas where protesters and residents can congregate.

The suit, filed this week on behalf of the city's homeless, objects to the 8.5-square-kilometer "event zone," a secondary security area outside the stricter security perimeter that will circle the convention site, Quicken Loans Arena. The lawsuit contends that security restrictions and rules regarding public demonstrations in the event zone are "arbitrary, unnecessary and unjustifiable."

The plaintiffs also include Citizens for Trump, an activist group backing presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, as well as a coalition for the homeless.

The Trump organization is also opposed to a provision that limits protest marchers to a 2.4-kilometer route that crosses a long bridge spanning a local river. Further objections target provisions requiring marches to be completed within 50 minutes. Other restrictions include a ban within the event zone on water bottles, tennis balls, squirt guns and a host of other items.

Ohio is an open-carry state, meaning legal owners of guns will be allowed to carry holstered weapons in the event zone. Guns will be prohibited within the stricter security perimeter and inside the arena.

Quick hearing

Analysts say the lawsuit will most likely move quickly into the federal court system, allowing it to be heard and ruled on ahead of the July 20 opening of the nominating convention.

Cleveland police are said to be worried that protesters might attempt to spook horses carrying patrol officers by throwing tennis balls or other items at those mounts.

For their part, the plaintiffs argue that tennis courts exist at a local university located within the event zone.

In other developments, analysts continued Saturday to question Trump's preparations for an increasingly likely head-to-head campaign for the White House with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Critics are pointing to the lack of Trump's organizational presence in looming Midwestern battleground states, including Wisconsin and Iowa.

Additionally, some analysts point to the fact that Trump backers have made few preparations for an advertising campaign against the Democratic standard-bearer.

Many of the same observers also point to regulations requiring the Clinton campaign to spend nearly $30 million in primary election money raised last month, before she accepts her widely expected party nomination at the end of July.

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