Out-of-state leaders give insight on RNC, violence

Leaders share advice on how to leverage national spotlight during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. 
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On Wednesday, a panel focused on how to showcase the city in the best light during the upcoming Republican National Convention. 

The discussion took place at the City Club of Cleveland as the annual State of Downtown Cleveland report was unveiled.

The evening was a chance to get the best advice from leaders who’ve experienced national political conventions in their communities.

How do does the city showcase Cleveland in the best light possible, when the RNC comes to town?

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A discussion point in the afternoon meeting centered on how the city can let the spotlight shine positively, when you have violent incidents happening in the downtown.

Philadelphia hosted the Republican National Convention in 2000. It’s poised to host the Democratic National Convention this summer.

“It is obviously an issue we all have to manage carefully, and remember that with thousands of people -- thousands of people have a totally positive experience,” Paul Levy with the Center City District of Philadelphia said. “It’s that one negative situation that sometimes gets magnified.”

Last month, SWAT was called in after an incident at Krush Clothing in downtown Cleveland.

In January, two men were killed in a downtown apartment building on West 9th Street. 

“You want a peaceful city. Everybody wants that,” Cleveland resident Mildred Bailey said.

A resident of Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, Matt Schmidt, said he wants the world to see everything the city has to offer.

“Negative things happen everywhere, whether it’s in the middle of the city, the suburbs, Cleveland, Denver, Philadelphia,” Schmidt told WKYC Channel 3’s Hilary Golston. “It’s really finding the balance and finding the highlights as well.”

Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, said virtually every city faces its issues with violence, especially when incidents bleed into the urban core. “In our country, nobody has that right yet,” Door said. “Some cities are doing it really well. Some cities are doing not very well, and most of the cities are all right in the middle.”

Most of the discussion focused on questions like utilizing the water front, green space, mass transit and buying downtown.

That might be an indication that most folks feel the violent incidents won’t be part of the narrative when the world comes to town.

“I guarantee you will have so many police and Secret Service in this city, there won’t be a problem. The safety will go up dramatically here. That’s not the issue at all,” Levy said.