A federal judge authorized a new plan Wednesday allowing demonstrators at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month to protest in an area that will be readily visible to conventiongoers.
Approved by U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster, the new plan also cuts in half the size of a so-called event zone where demonstrations and mobility will be limited and gives protesters more time to demonstrate.
The agreement between the city of Cleveland and the American Civil Liberties Union resolves weeks of wrangling over the rules covering what are expected to be lively demonstrations when Donald Trump is due to become the Republican Party’s official nominee for U.S. president at the convention July 18-21.
Trump campaign events have drawn raucous protests, with some resulting in clashes between his supporters and opponents.
“This settlement is a significant improvement from what the city had previously offered,” Christine Link, executive director for the ACLU of Ohio, said in a statement.
The ACLU sued on behalf of three groups planning to organize thousands of demonstrators, calling the rules too restrictive.
Dan Williams, a representative of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, described the changes as “minor” and said he did not believe there would be an increased security risk as a result.
Cleveland originally planned to cordon off 3.3 square miles around the convention site as an event zone where free speech mobility would be limited.
After another federal judge struck down the city’s original plan, the two sides settled the lawsuit Friday and took several days to work out details before revealing the new plan. The event zone is now 1.7 square miles.
The new zone frees up parkland where demonstrators will be able to organize before their protests. It also removes the Port of Cleveland and a small public airport for air taxi services and corporate jets from the restricted area.
The main parade route for demonstrators now extends deeper into central Cleveland and will be more visible from the sports arena where the main event will take place and more within the view of delegates and the media. The previous route took protesters farther away from the center of town and over a bridge where they would be seen primarily by themselves.
In addition, groups were granted extra staging time between demonstrations.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of Citizens for Trump, a Texas-based group that supports the billionaire businessman’s campaign; Organize Ohio, a liberal activist outfit; and Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, a charitable organization.