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In an action Monday morning, the City of Cleveland's Board of Control expanded the "event zone" around Tuesday's presidential debate to include Wade Lagoon and the museum grounds to the north in University Circle.
That means that a protest organized by a coalition of local left wing groups now falls inside the zone, where a long list of prohibited items
includes sound amplification equipment.
The event zone's boundaries had been designated as East 79th Street to Stokes/MLK Boulevards from west to east, and Hough Avenue to Cedar Avenue from north to south. (The original zone is demarcated by the yellow lines in the map above.) It was to be in effect Monday through Wednesday morning.
But on Monday, the Board of Control revised the boundaries that had been established on Sept. 23. (The expanded zone is the full pink shaded area in the map above.)
Organizers of the protest at Wade Lagoon, which include members of the police abolition group Black Spring CLE, the Cleveland Chapters of Democratic Socialists of America and the Sunrise Movement and the Coalition to Stop the Inhumanity at the County Jail, among others, said the expanded zone was not only a free speech violation; it was an expansion of an intrusive militarized presence in overwhelmingly Black neighborhoods.
"Apparently the 300 National Guardsmen, the barricades, fences, road closures, armored vehicles, guard towers and cattle pens were not enough intimidation," said Josiah Quarles of Black Spring CLE, in a statement provided to Scene. "This broad coalition purposely planned our event outside of the publicly known restricted area to give space to the voices of Cleveland. It was a disingenuous move for [the city] to rush through this last minute expansion that make all tools of protest prohibited."
Alana Garrett-Ferguson of New Voices and Defend Black Women interpreted the expanded zone as an attempt to intimidate Black communities.
"It is unjust and a misuse of public resources for [the city] to militarize the same community members that vote them in," she said. "This city has allowed our private and public sector to involve themselves in politics while restricting that same rights to community members."
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