Lawyers for the Republican National Convention urged Secret Service officials to relocate the designated protest zone for the July convention, referring to previously stated concerns about convention-goers’ safety.

Todd Steggerda, an RNC counsel, once more, urged the Secret Service director, Kimberly Cheatle, to relocate the designated protest zone farther from the Milwaukee convention venue, citing fears of potential violence between protesters and attendees.

“Your failure to act now to prevent these unnecessary and certain risks will imperil tens of thousands of convention attendees, inexcusably forcing them into close proximity to the currently planned First Amendment zone,” wrote Steggerda in a letter to Cheatle.

Steggerda cited an “increased and untenable risk of violence,” from a “rapidly deteriorating security environment,” and demanded that Cheatle intervene.

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Amid escalating worries over heightened party polarization and its potential to fuel political violence, the Secret Service is tasked with providing security to both major party conventions this summer.

Democrats have already focused considerable attention on anticipated protests at their August convention in Chicago, particularly those expected from Palestinian rights activists.

Similarly, Republicans have expressed their concerns regarding the emerging threats of violence against supporters of their presumptive nominee, former President Donald Trump. Last month, a man set himself on fire in front of the Manhattan courthouse where Trump was being tried. Last month, the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington was placed on lockdown following the discovery of a suspicious package containing two vials of blood.

Numerous protesters have already signaled their intent to defy the designated protest zones in Milwaukee and Chicago, raising concerns among the parties regarding the safety of their attendees.

In Milwaukee, the Secret Service has designated a protest site at Pere Marquette Park, a small public park on the bank of the Milwaukee River, about a quarter-mile from the arena hosting the Republican convention.

Steggerda contended that because of the park’s proximity to the convention site, the Secret Service should enlarge the convention’s secured perimeter into the park area. He proposed relocating the protest zone about half a mile south to Zeidler Union Square. This adjustment, he argued, would provide convention-goers “an essential – but modest – protective physical separation from the anticipated demonstrators.”

In response, Cheatle stated that officials have held “multiple meetings” with the RNC chairman, convention staff and other concerned senators and that the agency “was confident in the security plan being developed.” She added that expanding the security perimeter was legally impermissible.

Anthony Gugliemi, the Secret Service’s chief of communications, rebuked Steggerda for criticizing security plans that have not yet been finalized or made public. Gugliemi accused him of endangering the safety of convention-goers, ironically echoing the very concerns Steggerda had been raising.

“Publicly disclosing security information, as done in this letter, undermines our ability to maintain the integrity of our security plan and keep the convention, attendees and the public safe,” said Gugliemi.

Milwaukee officials clarified that the city, not the Secret Service, designated the protest zones. They emphasized their desire for a tightly secured perimeter to prevent disruption to other summer activities, pushing back on Steggerda’s claim that there was a “critical flaw” in the current security plan.

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