Coast Guard Plans RNC Security Zones

By Elizabeth Miller

When the Republican National Convention opens in Cleveland this month, security measures may cause problems for boaters on Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River.

With less than three weeks to go to the convention, the U.S. Coast Guard is setting up special restrictions on some waters – and a spot for protesters.

There are four security zones that could restrict recreational boating during the convention, from Burke Lakefront Airport to the Cuyahoga River that winds its way through the city.  The restrictions won’t be in place for the whole convention, but one – the part of the Cuyahoga that runs near Quicken Loans Arena – will only be open to shipping vessels when the convention is in session.

Lt. Commander Mickey Dougherty, the Deputy Incident Commander for the RNC, says the Coast Guard wants to make sure recreational boaters can enjoy the waters as they normally would.

"We’re doing our best to keep the waterways open as much as we can during the convention, understanding that there will be times when the convention is in session that use of the waterways will be restricted," Dougherty said. 

The Coast Guard has also designated two safety zones for protesters.  He says those zones give protesters a place to be seen and heard by their intended audience.

"It helps to specifically outline an area where people can go and demonstrate," Dougherty said.  "We’ll be in the area, so if there were something to occur, somebody falls overboard, we’re right there to help."

The safety zones are on Lake Erie, far from Quicken Loans Arena where the convention will be held.  Dougherty says the Coast Guard has not received any requests to demonstrate on the water.  

Dougherty adds that Cleveland's security zones are similar to those at previous conventions in coastal cities, such as Tampa in 2012. 

For more information about the restrictions: bit.ly /29byU5V

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