Federal judge overturns Cleveland's restrictions on RNC protests

From The Plain Dealer A federal judge on Thursday scrapped the city of Cleveland's plans for a heightened-security zone that would have encompassed most of downtown during the Republican National Convention, saying that the restrictions are burdensome to people who want to express their free-speech rights.

U.S. District Judge James Gwin's ruling comes 25 days before Republican delegates and leaders will descend upon Cleveland and forces the city to redraw the boundaries to the so-called "event zone," which would have encompassed a 3.5-square-mile area at the heart of the city.

The city indicated it would appeal the judge's order, but the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which brought the lawsuit, said the organization's attorneys are now negotiating at the judge's behest to come up with a compromise because of the short timeframe.

Gwin made his ruling orally, following a hearing. He said a written opinion would follow.

In his comments, the judge attacked several aspects of the event zone and the accompanying restrictions, which the city announced late last month:

• He said the size of the event zone, is "unduly large." It was drawn to go from from West 25th Street to Innerbelt, and from the lake south to the corridor between Orange Avenue and East 22nd Street. It all surrounded the Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention will be held and will be part of an area with even more security.

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