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Mediation fails in ACLU lawsuit over Milwaukee RNC plans for demonstrations

Mediation fails in ACLU lawsuit over Milwaukee RNC plans for demonstrations

Efforts to resolve a lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee over its plans for demonstrations during next month’s Republican National Convention fell apart in a mediation hearing Monday, according to court records.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin sued the city in federal court earlier this month, saying the city’s plans for demonstrations during the July 15-18 RNC violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the Coalition to March on the RNC 2024 and seeks a determination that the city’s “extraordinary event ordinance” for the RNC is unconstitutional. It also seeks a temporary restraining order prohibiting the city from enforcing portions of the ordinance during the RNC.

A hearing scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. Monday before Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Dries ended mid-afternoon with the parties unable to reach an agreement, according to federal court records.

The case now returns to U.S. District Court Judge Brett H. Ludwig.

“The city refuses to play ball with anyone other than the Republicans,” coalition Co-Chair Omar Flores said at a press conference outside the federal courthouse in Milwaukee Monday evening.

He said the group does not plan to try to go past the barriers that are expected to be set up in a “hard” perimeter around the primary RNC venues, rendering the area accessible only to those with credentials.

He declined to detail the reasons the negotiations broke down or the specific route the group is planning to march, citing a confidentiality order Dries issued to the parties Monday.

The inability to reach an agreement comes a month before the RNC begins in downtown Milwaukee.

City spokesperson Jeff Fleming said the mediation process is still “open,” but did not comment further on mediation talks. He also said the city still hopes to have march and demonstration sites available to the public as soon as late this week.

“Our goal is to give people a full opportunity to express their First Amendment rights, and we’re also interested in making sure all events in and around the convention are safe, so we aim to achieve both of those goals,” Fleming said.

Where the city locates demonstration areas and a march route depend on the boundaries of the “hard” perimeter that the U.S. Secret Service is expected to announce in the coming days. That perimeter will surround the three primary convention venues of Fiserv Forum, UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and the Baird Center.

The lawsuit’s demands include that the city have their parade route within “sight and sound” of Fiserv Forum, remove of all “unjustified” time, place and manner restrictions on “First Amendment” activities within the security “footprint” and process all permit applications to use the podium and march routes immediately.

That the city has not announced the RNC demonstration route “deprives the Coalition of the right to seek meaningful judicial review of that decision,” case documents state.

Read the complete article here.

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