Coolers, rope, tennis balls: What Milwaukee banned in ‘soft zone’ of RNC site

The Milwaukee Common Council passed an ordinance outlining the dozens of items to be banned in a restricted event area surrounding the Republican National Convention.

The Wisconsin city, set to host the convention from July 15-18 at the Fiserv Forum, expects the event to draw more than 50,000 additional visitors to Milwaukee within a two-week period.

Here’s what to know about the ordinance, which passed on June 11.

What does the ordinance ban?

There are more than 20 categories in the list of items prohibited in the area — also known as the “soft zone” — during the “RNC Period” between July 8-22.

The city has granted exceptions for security personnel and people who live or have a business in the restricted area.

Banned items include — but are not limited to — the following, under the ordinance:

Wood, metal, plastic or other hard materials exceeding certain sizes and thicknesses are banned, even if the wood is used to support signs.

Drones or other unmanned aircraft systems and devices are banned in the restricted area.

Locks are prohibited, with some exceptions, including those used by private property to secure fencing or when attached to a bicycle and those that serve as “an integral component of a conveyance or structure.”

Tents and other shelters, as well as sleeping bags, sleeping pads, mattresses, cots, hammocks, bivy sacks or stoves, are banned.

Coolers and ice chests, ladders and canned goods are prohibited.

Any adhesives or ropes, chains, cables, strappings, wires, strings, lines, tape or similar materials exceeding 6 inches in length are banned.

Tennis balls are also banned.

What about guns?

Actual guns are not prohibited in the area, but air rifles, air pistols, paintball guns, blasting caps, BB guns, pellet guns, wrist shots, wrist rockets and any projectile launchers are banned.

“I think everyone would feel uncomfortable with guns there, but we can’t violate state statute,” Council President José G. Pérez told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the Common Council meeting to approve the ordinance. “It is a concern.”

Per a letter from Milwaukee City Attorney Evan Goyke, an ordinance that would “prohibit firearm possession in parts of the City of Milwaukee … would not be legal and enforceable.”

Robert Bauman, a Milwaukee alderman who originally introduced an amendment to the ordinance to ban guns in the area, criticized the city’s decision.

“I’m just not comfortable with groups of people just roaming around with guns in our city,” Bauman said.

During the 2016 Republican convention, Cleveland similarly was not able to ban guns due to state law, and there were people openly carrying firearms around the convention.

The same thing happened during the 2012 convention in Tampa, Fla., after then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) rejected a request from Tampa’s mayor to ban concealed carry weapons in the city around the convention.

Guns prohibited in tighter security perimeter of convention site

While guns are not banned in the soft zone, the U.S. Secret Service is establishing a national special security event corridor — the “hard perimeter” — more immediately surrounding convention venues Fiserv Forum, Panther Arena and the Baird Centre, where guns will not be allowed.

The map for that zone will be released Friday, Alexi Worley, a spokesperson for the Secret Service, told The Hill.

“The U.S. Secret Service does not permit weapons of any kind to be brought into the inner security perimeter for National Special Security Events, with the exception of working law enforcement officers,” Worley said. “Out of concern for operational security, we [do] not discuss the means and methods used to conduct our protective operations.”

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