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 re-working of what’s happening.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, also a Republican, said Tuesday he’s working to ensure law enforcement will have the resources needed for the convention, while agreeing with the sheriff that security plans now in place aren’t adequate.
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 percent opposed to the convention and 42 percent in support, with the views mostly split along party lines.
Meanwhile 71 percent 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 percent expressed some level of concern about protests and social unrest tied to the convention.
Curry said “nothing” Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams conveyed Monday about a lack of preparedness was a surprise. But discussions have not been held about federal law enforcement in the city during the convention, which is just over a month away.
“He (Williams) knows what he’s talking about, clearly. So, the position that he takes that we’re not prepared for this right now, yes, I agree with him,” Curry told reporters Tuesday during an online call. “However, he also has communicated that he’s continuing to work with the planners to configure this in a way that’s safe and to get the resources that he needs.”
Asked if he would call off the convention if the sheriff is unable to safely police the event, Curry replied that “any event, anything that we put on in the city of Jacksonville, I have to have my sheriff telling me that it can be done. That he has the resources that he needs, and it can be done in a safe and responsible way.”
Williams did not take part in the Zoom conference call on Tuesday.
Jordan Ellsbury, Curry’s chief of staff, said the city remains in daily conversations with the U.S. Department of Justice awaiting approval of a federal security grant of $33 million to $35 million.
“It’s just a matter of days at this point,” Ellsbury said.
In the conference call, Undersheriff Pat Ivey said authorities have been in discussion with law enforcement from Charlotte and Tampa, which hosted the 2012 Republican convention. This year’s four-day event, which will culminate with President Donald Trump accepting the party’s nomination on Aug. 27, is bigger than a typical Jacksonville Jaguars game.
“This is a much bigger animal than I think, with the details, than most people want to realize,” Ivey said. “The reality is there’s a timeline. That is why there has been about an 18-month timeline historically, again, with every entity that’s ever had to deal with these.”
Last week, the Jacksonville host committee scaled backed the size of the event due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, while announcing that indoor and outdoor facilities would be used for various daytime and nightly primetime events.
Curry acknowledged that while he hasn’t seen updated financial models, the regional economic impact will be less than an initial projection of $100 million.
“Those original assumptions were based on a convention as we’ve known it over the years, others that have been hosted,” Curry said. “So, I think it’s clear that there wouldn’t be that kind of economic activity with a scale-back. However, it’s also clear that businesses would experience success because of this. Hotel rooms will fill up. So, there would be positive economic impact on the local economy and all local businesses.”
–News Service of Florida
Let them go ahead. Was it Darwin that said” survival of the fittest)?
Most trumpsters still think the covid-19 is a hoax. So let them go ahead, let them have their gop convention. The only sad part of being in denial is that they will spread it to their parents, grand parents and their children.
Ignorance in this situation is not bliss, it’s deadly.
….Republicans Move Ahead Anyway.
In the parlance of Thoroughbred horse racing it is called Running True to Form.
Christopher Lemke says
The sheriff has a right to be concerned. Mayor Curry won’t tolerate violence and looting like many of his Democrat counterparts. I’m sure that the sheriff and mayor know that they have a very supportive governor to that end and needed resources will be made available. Attendance at the convention is not mandatory, so those who have concerns probably should stay home. We’re looking forward to being great hosts for the Republican National Convention.
Mike Cocchiola says
So, Mr. Lemke, purposefully filling an enclosed venue with shouting, sneezing and spitting worshipers is just fine with you. We know that Florida is about the epicenter of the coronavirus in America if not the world, but tet’s spread it faster and wider just to cheer for the madman who continues to dismiss the seriousness of the pandemic and is willing to sicken and probably kill his followers just to hafe a cheering crowd as he continues to invade American cities, defraud the American people, advance the interests of our enimies, divide our allies and our country, and disgrace the presidency.
Sure, Mr. Lemke, let’s just focus on protesters. They’re the real problem in this country. Our are YOU!
Don’t use “we”! Speak for yourself
Sad Times says
Well, it appears that Republicans care NOTHING about the health of Florida’s citizens. They are willing to say…hey, some will get sick and die…but, we must satisfy the baby in the White House.
Thus, Floridians….be prepared for additional, unnecessary… illnesses and death.
As the months go on, it appears that Republicans can no longer be trusted. You want to follow the baby…no matter how deep our country goes into the dark hole.
Or…are you really a believer of going into that dark hole? If so, I just wish I knew what good it does for “we, the people.”
John the Baptist says
This is sheer stupidity! Forget about politics and save lives would be the common sense approach. However, it appears that if the GOP Convention was not held, Trump’s ego could not stand it and GOP heads would roll. Trump and his inner circle could care less about the safety of the public. This will be a disaster. But wait, there is a ray of hope. Joe Mullins will be attending and smooth everything over.
As they say; “Watch this space.” What is unfolding here is simply another chance for Trump to unleash his private federal police thugs on yet another American city. It is a perfect setup.
The locals say they cannot assure the safety of the convention goers, the residents or physical property and Trump will step in with his goons to quell the violence (even though there was none), bash heads (because we can) and in general, terrorize the streets of Jacksonville. This just fits right into his demented image of himself as being pro ‘law and order’.
This madness has to end, January can not come soon enough.
I can admit when I was wrong – well, sometimes . . . Who would have thunk it that Trump would reverse course? However, after some in depth cogitation on the matter, it became clear that he canceled the JAX convention as a part of the new false image he is trying to create. He says he cares about people now, really? When did he become a humanitarian? Today, when he realized just how far behind he is in the polls, that is when. All a part of his false makeover.
Oh, almost forgot, he closed his convention but our kids need to crowd back into their schools in three weeks. Lord save the teachers.
This man will never stop the hypocrisy, the lying, the cheating and the demeaning of our society. November cannot get here soon enough. My fear however is the damage he will do between November and January.
This a great way to test Darwin’s theory. Go ahead, the more the merrier. and please no mask it is just a democratic hoax, no harm to be done. Science does require a test under controlled conditions that is made to demonstrate a known truth, examine the validity of a hypothesis and lots of guinea pigs.
Concerned Citizen says
How come we aren’t hearing about how the Democrats are endangering Milwaukee?
Don’t both parties attract large crowds? Aren’t both parties putting their consituients at risk? Both parties should have put these large conventions on hold until this pandemic subsides.
This article seemed pretty biased.
Christopher Lemke says
Biased? Naaaa. We don’t hear about Milwaukee because there are plenty of other large cities where the mayors are Democrat. Plenty of risk 24/7. Milwaukee is way down on the list. Not saying that the Democrats are hypocritical or anything.
The Dems did a huge downsize on their planned convention in Milwaukee, best I can find is that there will be less than 1000 people involved in Milwaukee. No delegates, no alternates and no groupies. It appears they will be holding small meetings across the country where the delegates will meet and vote. Those votes will be transmitted to Milwaukee for a final tally and JB’s acceptance speech.
Still not sure what final impact the R’s will have on Charlotte.
Let the ignorant virus spreaders have their convention. . . Darwinian for sure. Just hoping the carriers stay away from Flagler Beach.
I certainly regret that the virus will also be spread to innocent family members and innocent members of the public as well. Of course the mayor should listen to the MAJORITY . . . those who do not want the convention held there. . . . but, the revenue it will bring in is much more important than people’s lives and health. Insanity Rules!
Dennis C Rathsam says
Really, What kind of dept does he run? This sheriff has many places to turn, to protect the convention. Law enforcement has proticals for this type of situation. Do your job. Our sheriff could handle it! Must be a democrate!
The commenter must not have read the article. The sheriff is a Republican.
And yet another example of how the left is the greatest threat to freedom of speech. They will use all methods to try to silence freedom-loving Americans. This week, a pro-police rally was held in Denver. The mob came out in full force and began beating the rally participants. Ironically, the police were told to stand down and watch it happen; fortunately, some didn’t obey their orders. There was no outcry of concern for potential covid infections by anyone on the left. Imagine if crowds were to storm newspaper offices and began beating the reporters; the left would be incredulous, and rightly so. But when the leftist mobs beat people for expressing their views in a public forum, the left, and the media are silent. When the right plans a rally, publications such as this one cry foul over concerns of safety and health, making them just as guilty as the marauding mobs of antifa. What is it you like to say? “Silence is violence.”
@There IS fake news – it should know
Facts are facts. I don’t know much about the Greeley Tribune, but I doubt there’s a conservative publication to be found anywhere near Denver. Notice there is no mention of George Floyd by “Denver’s Party for SOCIALISM and Liberation.” Care to discuss the facts now?
@”…I don’t know much about the Greeley Tribune…”
Ain’t that the truth. Here – <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_First_Mediaread"read and learn" – or not.
Considering what you’ve ever had to say about anything, I doubt you even took note of the recent sale of the McClatchy newspapers – much less give thought to the results of that event.
Considering this will end up being read, if at all, by you and me and few if any other people, I’ll end here. If this actually gets posted, I hope you and anyone else reading it will actually apply some critical thinking to this – and a lot more.
None of it changes the fact that the left is the biggest denier of Constitutional rights there is. It’s the leftists that are beating people for exercising their free speech rights. Other more liberal publications confirmed the above accounts, but sugar coated it down to a few fights broke out. The videos don’t lie, nor do the facts.
What the hell – one more try
@”…I don’t know much about the Greeley Tribune…”
Ain’t that the truth. Here, read and learn – or not.
Considering what you’ve ever had to say about anything, I doubt you even took note of the recent sale of the McClatchy newspapers – which includes the Miami Herald.
Or gave any thought to the results of that event.
Given that this will end up being read, if at all, by you and me and few if any other people, I’ll end here, except to say if this actually gets posted, I hope you and anyone else reading it will actually apply some critical thinking to this – and a lot more.
trump just cancelled the Jacksonville portion of the convention. GOOD!
The Democratic convention was greatly scaled back and mostly moved on-line a month ago:
Ed kelly says
Windbag cancelled because of lack of donors who refused to pay for this fiasco, if he had the money this would continue. Also this narcissist realized the attendance would be similar to the Tulsa and Phoenix flops so money and lack of asses in the seats determined the cancellation not any concern for public health. Typical trump spin and lie away stupid ideas, good news windbag trailing by double digits in Fl.. will be hard to claim voter fraud after losing by 10 M votes in Nov.
VOTE THIS BUM OUT.
Finally the pressure of common sense prevailed… Now lets stop the militarization of our Democratic Republic and the violation of our first amendment with baseless excuses that is turning the current administration into a totalitarian regime.