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Secret Service considering new measures to keep protesters away from park near Republican convention

Originally Published: 13 JUN 24 11:09 ET

By Alayna Treene and Shania Shelton, CNN

(CNN) — The US Secret Service is in talks to expand its security perimeter around the Milwaukee arena where the Republican Party will host its national convention this year, three sources familiar with the plans told CNN.

The discussed expansion would bar protesters from being allowed to gather in a large park near the venue.

The talks come after a monthslong dispute between the Secret Service and the GOP over security measures around the convention, which will take place from July 15 to 18. The party has accused the agency of ignoring its concerns, while the Secret Service has said Republicans were undermining efforts to keep the event safe.

The Washington Post first reported on the new security measures under consideration.

In a statement to CNN, Trump campaign adviser Danielle Alvarez praised what she described as the Secret Service’s decision to keep protestors away from Pere Marquette Park, the largest public park near the venue.

“We applaud Secret Service leadership for including Pere Marquette Park in the security perimeter and we implore local officials to expedite the permit application for this park and choose a different location for the First Amendment zone,” Alvarez said.

However, an official involved in the process warned that no formal decision has been made at this point and that the Secret Service is still waiting to learn whether the GOP’s permit to hold its own activities in the park will be approved. At present, it is unclear whether the city of Milwaukee will allow any such activities to take place in the park.

“As of right now, the security plan for the 2024 Republican National Convention, which includes the security perimeter, is still in development,” Alexandria Worley, a spokesperson for the US Secret Service, told CNN.

“The U.S. Secret Service does not determine demonstration zones for National Special Security Events – those decisions are made by the host city. The U.S. Secret Service is continuing to work closely with our public safety partners, the City of Milwaukee, and the Republican National Committee to ensure the highest level of safety and security during the 2024 Republican National Convention,” Worley added.

In April, Republican National Committee counsel Todd Steggerda sent a letter asking the Secret Service to keep protesters farther back from the July convention in Milwaukee than what had been planned at the time.

He wrote that the city’s proposal “creates an elevated and untenable safety risk to the attending public” and would place demonstrators in a one-block park that “will force thousands of peaceful attendees and demonstrators … to be in extremely close, consistent and unavoidable proximity.”

The RNC letter came during a peak in pro-Palestinian rallies at major universities across the US that saw police removing demonstrators on some campuses, resulting in detainments and arrests. The committee said in the letter that “recent college and university campus clashes” have shown that forced proximity causes heightened tensions and increases the risk of confrontations and law enforcement intervention.

When the RNC announced in 2022 that it would host this year’s convention in Milwaukee, the city’s Democratic mayor, Cavalier Johnson, dismissed security concerns, saying, “Our police department is well-versed, and I think they are prepared for the convention.”

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