City Officials Urge Calm Ahead of Tuesday Night's Presidential Debate

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson at a virtual press conference
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson at a virtual press conference discussing the presidential debate in Cleveland. [City of Cleveland / Facebook Live]
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Cleveland officials used a Monday press conference to encourage protestors to be peaceful – and assure residents that protests will be kept under control – ahead of Tuesday’s presidential debate.

The city hosting the first debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden at the Cleveland Clinic Tuesday evening.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson laid out his vision of a successful presidential debate from the city’s perspective: “People are able to protest or demonstrate, voice their opinion, with the understanding that that does not include the destruction of property or the harming of people.” 

Peaceful demonstrations aren’t just in the best interest of the city, but also everyone nationwide watching from home, Jackson went on to say.

“We have two candidates who are distinctly different not only in terms of personalities but in terms of ideologies, their approach to life, and what our job is to do is to minimize all of those distractions that may occur that would not allow for people who are viewing the debate to really get the essence of the two candidates,” Jackson said. 

Road closures surrounding the Cleveland Clinic campus have been announced, and last week the city released a list of banned items from the "event zone,” The list includes nun chucks and axes, but city officials are barred by Ohio state law from banning the open carry of firearms.

Cleveland road closures for Sept. 29 presidential debate

Jackson said he has no plans at this point for a curfew. 

City and safety officials offered few specific details regarding plans to keep demonstrations outside the debate quiet, insisting revealing too much information would jeopardize security plans.

Safety Director Karrie Howard tried to calm residents concerned about unrest outside the debate.

“I assure the citizens of Cleveland we have taken every precaution to make sure that while people exercise their First Amendment right to free speech that will be done in a safe and secure manner with the community in mind,” Howard said. 

The Ohio National Guard also will be on site, partnering with local police to ensure safety at the event. The FBI and the Secret Service are also involved with Tuesday’s security efforts.

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