Secret Service Unlikely To Relocate RNC Protest Zone Despite GOP Pressure

The U.S. Secret Service appears unlikely to move the designated protest area for the upcoming Republican National Convention in Milwaukee further away from the event venue despite mounting pressure from Republican officials.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and aides to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) separately met with Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle on Tuesday to voice their security concerns.

Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Cheatle said she lacks the “authority” to change the current security plans. But Secret Service officials have suggested there is insufficient evidence to justify altering the arrangements which include a protest area expected to be located at Pere Marquette Park about — a quarter-mile from the main convention venue Fiserv Forum.

“I’m not a security expert, but this just looks like an obvious area of concern here that I think needs to be changed,” Johnson said after his meeting with Cheatle. “So we’re going to keep working to get it changed.”

The Secret Service reiterated in a statement that the security perimeter for the RNC is based on various factors, including “protective intelligence risk and threat assessments” and is designed to “ensure the highest level of security while minimizing impacts to the public.”

Republicans argue that having convention attendees walk past demonstrators in the park on their way to the event creates what an RNC attorney called “a mandated confrontational area.” However, protest organizers have sought an even closer location than Pere Marquette Park.

Milwaukee city officials maintain they must provide a speaker’s podium and march route within “sight and sound” of the RNC under the U.S. Constitution and the RNC framework agreement signed by city leaders in 2022.

Republicans point out the interesting differences between how Secret Service is treating the Democratic and Republcan conventions, with Democrats having protest areas designated a full 3 miles away from their convention.