Connect with us
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams believes he cannot provide security for the RNC. Image viaNews4Jax.

2020/2022

Convention moving forward after Sheriff’s warning

“Where do we go from here is a good question. But where we are today, we can’t support it.”

Planning continues for the Republican National Convention next month in Jacksonville, the host committee announced late Monday after the local sheriff warned the city isn’t ready for even a scaled-down event.

“We continue to plan to host programming each day leading up to President Donald Trump’s speech accepting the nomination on Thursday, August 27th,” the host committee said in a news release. “We expect there to be evening programming each night, along with some daytime events and festivities.”

Most of the news release reiterated that the convention is being downsized because of the coronavirus pandemic, which the committee acknowledged Thursday. Florida has emerged as a global hotspot for the virus in recent weeks.

The news release came after Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told reporters Monday afternoon he didn’t believe his agency could keep the convention safe with the short turnaround time after it was moved last month from Charlotte, N.C.

The Florida Times-Union reported Williams said only “bits and pieces” of a plan were set, with concerns about having resources that would extend from the convention to anticipated protests “outside the perimeter.”

“Where we are today is we can’t support this plan,” Williams told the Times-Union. “Where do we go from here is a good question. But where we are today, we can’t support it.”

Williams, a Republican, added, “There’s got to be some major reworking of what’s happening.”

The host committee news release maintained the convention will be in Jacksonville, employing various health safety protocols for attendees, from Aug. 24 through Aug. 27.

“We plan to utilize a number of indoor and outdoor venues in this multi-block radius of Jacksonville, including the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, TIAA Bank Field, Daily’s Place Amphitheater, 121 Financial Ballpark and several others,” the host committee said.

Only regular delegates will be allowed to attend the first three days of the convention, while they will be able to bring guests to hear Trump publicly accept the party’s nomination. Alternate delegates will also get access to Trump’s speech.

Florida Democrats seized on Williams’ comments, saying they were the “latest blow to Trump’s Jacksonville ego trip.”

“Trump is putting the Jacksonville community at risk by recklessly pushing forward with this last-minute convention despite the obvious health and safety concerns,” Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Frances Swanson said in a statement.

Republican leaders last month decided to move key parts of the convention from Charlotte to Jacksonville after Trump expressed displeasure that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was “unable to guarantee” that coronavirus social-distancing requirements would be lifted before the event.

A University of North Florida poll of registered Duval County voters released June 24 found 58% opposed to the convention and 42% in support, with the views mostly split along party lines.

Meanwhile, 71% had concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, if a large number of people gathered for the convention, and 61% expressed some level of concern about protests and social unrest tied to the convention.

___

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Written By

Jim Turner is a Capitol reporter for the News Service of Florida, providing coverage on issues ranging from transportation and the environment to Legislative and Cabinet politics, which are some of the areas he worked in 20 years with TCPalm in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. Jim grew up in Millburn, New Jersey, where he started his journalism career providing weekly reports on the high school soccer team --- of which he was a member--- to the local Millburn Item. Jim received degrees in journalism and history from High Point University in North Carolina.

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Connect
Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.