Cleveland police union calls for gun ban outside Republican National Convention

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Photo via Erik Drost/Flickr (CC-BY)

Tennis balls, but not firearms, are banned at the RNC.

The head of one of Cleveland’s largest police unions has called on Ohio Gov. John Kasich to suspend open-carry laws during next week’s Republican National Convention.

“We are sending a letter to Gov. Kasich requesting assistance from him,” Stephen Loomis, president of Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, told CNN. “They can fight about it after the RNC or they can lift if after the RNC, but I want him to absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over.”

The remarks came after three police officers were gunned down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Sunday—an attack which came less than two weeks after five police officers were killed in Dallas.

The Cleveland police union is now demanding that Police Chief Calvin Williams allow officers to be grouped together during patrols, particularly while outside of designated security zones.

“We're going to be doing things differently [after the Baton Rouge attack],” said Loomis. “Right now, the chief of police thinks it's a good idea to have one officer without a car standing at a post in various intersections all around the city... That is absolute insanity to me. There is no reason for that. We are going to demand that the police chief—at a minimum—make sure that we have three officers working together, watching each other's backs.”

Neither the governor’s office nor the Cleveland Police Department could be immediately be reached for comment.

Water guns, tennis balls, and sleeping bags can be found on the list of 72 items banned from the event zone surrounding the Quicken Loans Arena where the RNC will be held. Firearms, however, may be carried openly by anyone who legally owns one without a license.

Given the officers' deaths in Dallas on July 7, followed by the deaths of three in Baton Rouge early Sunday morning, Cleveland’s police union leadership has come to view the hardline being taken on Second Amendment rights as a threat to lives of the officers tasked with ensuring social order amid the weeklong convention.

Guns are banned inside the center, where Donald Trump is expected to accept the Republican Party’s nomination Thursday evening. Trump's appearance will be preceded by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, among others.

Federal law allows the U.S Secret Service, which is administering a smaller “secure zone,” to ban weapons of any kind, including guns, inside the Quicken Loans Arena, where GOP delegates will gather next week to nominate Donald Trump.

At news conference on Wednesday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said his intent was to follow the law. “And if the law says you can have open carry, that’s what it says. Whether I agree with it or not is another issue,” he said.

“There's no state law on tennis balls,” a spokesman for mayor told CNN on Thursday.

Update 2:59pm CT, July 17: Kasich's office has issued a statement to the New York Times indicating that he legally cannot suspend open-carry laws. Ohio governor spokesperson Emmalee Kalmbach had this to say:

“Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested. The bonds between our communities and police must be reset and rebuilt—as we’re doing in Ohio–so our communities and officers can both be safe. Everyone has an important role to play in that renewal.”

H/T WPTZ

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Cleveland police chief talks protests and security ahead of the Republican National Convention
Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams appeared on CBS News’ Face The Nation on Sunday morning. Williams spoke with host John Dickerson about the state of security and safety surrounding the upcoming Republican National Convention. The RNC begins on Monday, and will run through Thursday, amounting to―in all likelihood―four solid days of celebration of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
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