McConnell pushes Secret Service to move RNC protesters farther away

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is prodding the Secret Service to keep protesters farther away from the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, warning a conflict is likely unless the security perimeter is changed.

“I am deeply concerned about reports that the security perimeter around the Republican Convention site in Milwaukee may be creating a likely — and preventable — area of conflict between protesters and convention attendees and delegates,” McConnell warned in a May 10 letter to Kimberly Cheatle, the director of the U.S. Secret Service.

“As you know, this year has been a very challenging one for protests in the United States. We must all take seriously that tensions are high and do our best to balance the right to express dissent while also keeping Convention attendees as safe as possible,” McConnell warned.

The GOP leader described himself as “a strong proponent” of the First Amendment rights to speak and assemble, he argued that time-place-and-manner restrictions are appropriate.

“In a potentially volatile situation like a major political convention, located downtown in a large city, it’s imperative that we balance the place of those First Amendment activities with the safety of convention attendees,” he wrote.

He emphasized the importance of maintaining clear points of access for GOP senators attending the convention.

And he noted that the “First Amendment activity zone” for the Democratic convention in Chicago “will be miles away from the convention itself.”

“Of singular importance to me is the fact that many United States Senators are attending the Convention. Their safety and security is paramount,” he insisted.

To keep senators safe, McConnell is asking the senior leadership of the Secret Service to meet with Republican National Committee and Republican National Convention leaders within the next week.

McConnell said he will also ask the Senate sergeant-at-arms to work with the Secret Service to ensure they are prepared to keep senators safe.

“This is a serious issue in which time is of the essence,” he wrote, calling it “unacceptable” that Secret Service leadership has yet to meet with the RNC and convention leadership.

“I request you personally ensure this meeting takes place next week so that these concerns are heard and adjudicated,” he wrote.

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