RNC protesters take City of Milwaukee to court over location restrictions (2024)

We're less than two weeks away from the Republican National Convention.

The fight for where protesters can go to make their voices heard is headed to court Wednesday morning. The Coalition to March on the Republican National Convention says its demands have been simple and consistent — they want the proper permits to be within sight and hearing of the convention site.

TMJ4's Sydni Eure spoke with Aurelia Ceja, a co-chair with the Coalition to March on the RNC. She says the group applied for permits over a year ago but have been met with push back ever step of the way.

RNC protesters take City of Milwaukee to court over location restrictions (1)

TMJ4, Sydni Eure

“We’re not surprised with them constantly pushing back," Ceja says. "This has been over a year-long process of applying for permits for the March and the city really not providing a lot of clarity as to what like the perimeters would be or clarity regarding the permitting process itself, which they changed multiple times."

The group's lawsuit argues that Milwaukee's ordinance governing parades and protests violates the First Amendment by limiting the locations where protesters can be.

Watch: Protesters tell TMJ4 why they're suing Milwaukee:

RNC protesters take City of Milwaukee to court over location restrictions

“It’s both frustrating that the city hasn’t supported us in that so far, but, also it’s important that we exercise our right to do so," Ceja says.

Currently, protesters have demonstrations zones allocated to the north and south of Fiserv Forum. Zeidler Union Square and Haymarket Square are both about half a mile away.

"It’s definitely frustrating," Ceja says. "This was a decision made on multiple fronts from both the city [and] the Secret Service. the Milwaukee Police Department has been heavily involved in the decision-making process but who hasn’t been involved are community members.”

Secret Service officials say the protest areas were placed that far away from the RNC for the safety of those attending the convention. Representatives with the city echoed that sentiment, saying their goal is to maintain safety during the event.

But, protest organizers called the demonstration zones "insulting" and say they wouldn't be seen or heard, even through a sound system.

"The routes that were proposed by the Secret Service and the city were unacceptable because they were not within sight and sound," Ceja says. "So, really not much of a protest if we’re super far away and no one can see us or hear us. So, that has been our one singular thing that they have been unable to fulfill yet.”

Sydni asked Ceja what the group would do if the lawsuit doesn't end in its favor. She says they're prepared to march despite whatever consequences may follow.

"So that's why we took it to this level and we have engaged in this lawsuit," Ceja says. "It's really to continue that fight forward. We're gonna be marching no matter what but we would really love to see the city uphold our First Amendment right to protest."

The Coalition will hold a news conference Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m. That's 30 minutes before hearings are supposed to start in the courtroom.

"When people talk about Republicans coming to town — and especially someone who really, really believes that they uphold a lot of values that are hurtful to other people are against what you stand for — I don’t think our solution is to put our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening, our solution is to get out there and say that we don’t stand for it here in Milwaukee,” Ceja says.

Watch: Mariam Mackar has been sitting in on Wednesday morning's hearings and sent an update:

Federal judge hearing lawsuit arguments from RNC protesters

TMJ4 will bring you more updates on air and online.

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RNC protesters take City of Milwaukee to court over location restrictions (2024)

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