Anti-Trump groups among those receiving RNC protest permits


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two groups opposed to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump were among the first to receive permits to gather at next month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, city records show.

Others include the League of Women Voters; a group that aids immigrants; and Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for picketing at funerals using anti-gay chants and signs because it believes God is punishing the U.S. and its soldiers for defending a nation that tolerates homosexuality. Peace and anti-racism groups also got permits.

Various groups are seeking permits to demonstrate, march or hold events at nearby parks.

On Friday, a federal judge said he would hold a June 23 hearing on a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to clarify the permitting process for the GOP convention that begins July 18.

The ACLU filed the request on behalf of Citizens for Trump; Organize Ohio, a community organizing group; and a coalition that advocates on behalf of the homeless. All are still waiting for permits.

The ACLU said the city changed an announced policy of issuing permits on a first-come, first-served basis by giving permits to groups that applied long after Citizens for Trump and the other groups represented by the ACLU.

The city has yet to respond in court filings and is not commenting on the lawsuit.

The request for a hearing was an update to a lawsuit the ACLU filed Tuesday, arguing the size and regulations of the event zone covering 3.3 square miles in downtown Cleveland should be reduced.

The lawsuit against Cleveland says the zone is so large it imposes “absurdly” broad restrictions over everyone living or working downtown.

The ACLU is concerned about possible limits on free speech, as well.

Other groups that received permits this week: an organization fighting black-on-black violence; “Code Pink Women For Peace”; a group organizing a “Stand Together Against Trump” march; a man organizing a “Stop Trump” event; the Greater Cleveland Immigration Network; the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee; and Revolution Books bookstore.

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This story has been corrected to show that the League of Women Voters is not a group that helps immigrants and that groups want to hold events at parks, not stay.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins

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