Cleveland Police Union Asks Governor To Suspend Open Carry During RNC In Light Of Baton Rouge Police Shootings

Stephen Loomis, president of the largest police union in Cleveland, has sent a letter to Gov. John Kasich asking him to temporarily suspend Ohio’s open carry gun laws during the Republican National Convention. The request is in light of the Louisiana and Minnesota shootings of two black men. After the shootings, a lone gunman in Dallas shot and killed five police officers, wounding seven others, as well as two civilians. On Sunday, July 17, three more officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and three others were wounded.

Loomis, who heads the largest police union in Cleveland, said his concern is with keeping officers safe. The outspoken leader also said that Gov. Kasich could issue an executive order, and the legality of it could be discussed after the RNC, according to CNN.

“We are sending a letter to Gov. Kasich requesting assistance from him. He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point. They can fight about it after the RNC or they can lift it after the RNC, but I want him to absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over.”

CLE police union president asking governor to ban open carrying of weapons during RNC via @fox8news

— Michael McGuire (@MichaelMcGuire_) July 17, 2016

Ohio state laws allow licensed firearm owners to carry their weapons openly. Residents are legally permitted to walk throughout the city of Cleveland — even within a nearly two square mile proximity of the event — with any firearm, with the exception of those banned by the state.

Loomis’ concerns were addressed by Gov. Kasich, and he also commented on his limitations as governor, CNN also noted.

“Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested. The bonds between our communities and police must be reset and rebuilt — as we’re doing in Ohio — so our communities and officers can both be safe. Everyone has an important role to play in that renewal.”

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson stated, on ABC’s This Week, that the city is prepared to deal with any situation that might occur, noted the New York Daily News. He reminded the public that the city of Cleveland has had its share of protests, perhaps referring to the widespread civil unrest and rioting during the 1960s and more recent solidarity marches after the officer who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice was never indicted.

“We are prepared, and we’re prepared not only on a local level, but (on) the state and the national level. We’re prepared for everything. Anytime something happens, particularly if it’s unusual, then you tweak and you modify whatever you’re doing to accommodate that in order to minimize it or mitigate the possibility of it. We’re not strangers to unrest and demonstrations and protests.”

Over 10,000 protesters from various groups such as “America First,” a pro-Trump group, Black Lives Matter, and other groups will have a presence in Cleveland. The fear among many is that there will be bloodshed. America First expects 5,000 at a parade on Monday, and another group “Stand Together Against Trump,” anticipates another 5,000 on Tuesday, added the New York Daily News.

The RNC meetings will be held in the Quicken Loans Arena, and attendees will be banned from carrying umbrellas, water guns, tennis balls, and similar items. Loomis stated that the state’s law on firearms near the convention site is a bad decision. He has also advocated that police work in groups of three during the RNC and should not be allowed to work shifts by themselves.

“It’s absolute insanity to me. My concern is for the uniformed members that is out there. They are going to be out there in the trenches.”

The Cleveland police have legitimate concerns in the wake of recent events. Jackson said that the city of Cleveland has experience in dealing with open carry, and everyone should stay calm. Last month, the mayor’s office bought a $50-million protest insurance policy for protection against destruction.

[Photo by Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images]