CLEVELAND -- On the steps of Cleveland City Hall Monday, more than two dozen people accused the Cleveland Police Department of "militarizing" for the Republican National Convention.
“We were dismayed to learn through media reports that the city plans to purchase 2,000 sets of riot gear,” said attorney Jacqueline Green with the National Lawyers Guild, “As well as 310 sets of riot control gear and 25 sets of tactical ballistics armor, among other items.”
They are items use to control crowds. Used the wrong way, there are concerns that innocent demonstrators could get hurt.
“We don't need all of this military equipment. It serves no purpose,” Michael Nelson with the NAACP said.
This year Cleveland is getting $50 million federal dollars to beef up its security for the RNC and officials have discretion on how to spend it.
They can also keep what they buy. And since they are likely to reuse it when the convention ends, many people want to know what it is.
“We're not asking for operational security details,” said Toni Rozsahegyi with Code Pink. “We’re asking for a list and itemized amounts.”
“No one here is suggesting that the police should have no tools at their disposal,” said Jeff Miller with the ACLU. “I think the big concern among the group right here is we want to know what they’re going to do. We want to know what they’re going to have.”
Following Monday’s city council meeting, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson refused to take question on the matter, while his office repeatedly said it will not discuss operational security matters.
Many of the voices behind Monday’s gathering are also now behind a letter to both the mayor and council listing demands. They want to first see what is being purchased and ultimately give their input on it.