The city of Cleveland is boarding up – and hunkering down – for what is expected to be a wild night.
More than 300 National Guard members were ordered into the city by Gov. Mike DeWine to “ensure a safe and secure environment” during the first Trump-Biden presidential debate. And while guard members began roaming the streets Monday, storefronts and businesses boarded up their windows amid fears of the violent protests to come.
The area surrounding the Cleveland Clinic, where the debate is set to take place, looks like a scene out of a movie: camouflage Humvees lining the streets, guards roaming and tall iron fences surround the premises, photos on Cleveland.com show.
This national spotlight is not new for Cleveland, as the city held the 2016 Republican National Convention where Trump accepted the GOP nomination.
But, this year’s event will look a little different for Forest City.
According to an interview with WKYC, via the New York Post, Black Lives Matter is already planning a “Presidential Debate Protest, said LaTonya Goldsby, the group’s Cleveland president.
“This presidential debate has just created chaos within the city,” Goldsby told the station, according to the New York Post.
But, Goldsby insisted there would be no escalation: “We have security plans and things in place to protect folks that are going to be in attendance. So, we aren’t looking to see any violence or escalation or anything like that.”
Despite the promise, the city has taken necessary precautions to ensure an extra layer of protection for city residents, protesters and out-of-town guests.
Major General John Harris, the Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard, told WTOL11 that the heavy reinforcements were to ensure “everybody has a chance to express their First Amendment rights” safely, according to the New York Post.
“We’re hopeful that just having a presence, a large enough presence in the right places, will prevent any further necessity,” he told the station.
With the election only 35 days away and much of the country facing civil unrest, this debate is likely to spark protests not only in Cleveland but in other major cities around the country. And with this in mind, Cleveland is taking no chances.
Their main goal? To keep their city safe.
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