RNC asks Secret Service to keep protesters farther from convention location

The Republican National Committee is asking the Secret Service to keep protesters farther back from the July convention in Milwaukee than is currently planned.

RNC counsel Todd Steggerda wrote in a letter dated Friday that the city of Milwaukee’s current proposal “creates an elevated and untenable safety risk to the attending public” and places demonstrators in a one-block park that “will force thousands of peaceful attendees and demonstrators … to be in extremely close, consistent and unavoidable proximity.”

Steggerda’s letter also requests a meeting between Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle and RNC leadership to discuss the “urgent safety issue.”

The letter comes amid heightened awareness around political protests as pro-Palestinian demonstrators rally at major universities across the US. Some campuses have called police to remove demonstrators, resulting in detainments and arrests.

“As recent college and university campus clashes make plain, forced proximity heightens tensions among peaceful attendees and demonstrators of differing ideologies and increases the risk of escalation to verbal, or even physical, clashes and corresponding law enforcement intervention,” the letter states.

Alexi Worley, spokesperson for the Secret Service, said in a statement that the agency is “not formally in receipt of the letter” and will “respond through appropriate channels” if it receives one.

“The operational security plan for national special security events, to include the 2024 Republican National Convention, is developed and approved through an executive steering committee made up of representatives from the Secret Service, as well as supporting federal, state, and local agencies,” Worley said. “The operational security plan is based on a variety of thorough security assessments established in coordination with our partners, with the express mission being to ensure the highest level of safety and security for the convention.”

The letter from the RNC states the Secret Service’s plan for the security perimeter “creates a pedestrian traffic pattern that funnels these extremely large crowds by and through the Park in order to access the Convention site,” and proposes expanding the perimeter farther east.

The RNC announced in 2022 it would host this year’s convention in Milwaukee, and the city’s Democratic mayor, Cavalier Johnson, dismissed security concerns at the time.

“Our police department is well-versed, and I think they are prepared for the convention,” Johnson said in 2022, noting that Milwaukee was supposed to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention before it switched to a virtual format amid the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN’s Samantha Waldenberg contributed to this report.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com