President Donald Trump’s enemies are busy stirring up a kerfuffle over the impending Republican National Convention set for August 24-27 in Jacksonville, Florida at the 15,000-person VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.
Several attorneys and “other citizens” in Jacksonville filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city in an attempt to block the event from proceeding because of the coronavirus pandemic. They have not filed any lawsuits to stop thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters who have jammed the city’s streets for weeks.
The complaint, filed in Duval County listed several objections to hosting the event. It complained that the event would be “a nuisance injurious to the health (and) welfare” of the city’s community and blamed a spike in coronavirus cases on a loosening of restrictions in the state, not the numerous mass protests.
Duval County reported 348 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 9,835.
It urged the city “to avoid community spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health and welfare of Plaintiffs and the community, it is necessary and essential that all super spreader events where large numbers of people congregate in close proximity indoors not occur.”
The plaintiffs are urging the city to limit attendance to only 2,500 people if the convention cannot be shut down entirely. They are demanding that health guidelines like masks and sanitizing be instituted and police be present to enforce social distancing.
The Republican National Committee has pledged to institute health precautions like daily COVID testing for all attendees. The city also imposed a mandate that masks must be worn for for public and indoor locations.
The complaint contended that unless the court issues a restriction, “the congregation of thousands of people in close proximity for extended periods of time will constitute a nuisance and result in massive spread of COVID-19 among the persons in attendance and throughout the City of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida and interfere in Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property and right to be free of infliction of disease and death.”
Nearly 8,000 protesters congregated on Adams Street on June 6 outside the Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville as two groups marched against excessive use of force by police following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. One of the marches, ‘Jax Take Action,’ was described as the largest civil rights march in the city’s history.
Three days later, after more than ten days of protests, Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams even walked side by side with demonstrators. “I understand the anger and frustration. I hear you and I’m going to walk with you,” Curry told the crowd.
Hundreds of marchers cheered as Curry announced he ordered the Confederate monument in Hemming Park removed overnight and hinted that “more change is coming.”
Days after Floyd’s death authorities allowed 3,000 people to protest downtown. The demonstration started outside the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) headquarters on Bay Street near the entrance to the police building.
Marchers walked miles of streets in downtown Jacksonville, snarling traffic from 3 p.m. until it turned violent around 7 p.m. when armored police were forced to break up the crowd with smoke bombs. The protest caused traffic delays, road closures and mass transit disruptions, and thousands of people wrapped around several streets.
In what now appears to be a coordinated and politically-motivated effort against the GOP, the Democratic Mayor of Houston, Texas, Sylvester Turner also announced on Wednesday that the city has canceled its contract with the GOP convention, which was scheduled at the George R. Brown Convention Center on July 16.