While Gov. Brian Sandoval will be greeting President Donald Trump when Air Force One lands on Wednesday, multiple protest groups confirmed they will also be gathering to meet Trump when he arrives at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
As of Tuesday morning, the following organizations were expected to be a part of the ninth protest in Reno to take place since Trump took office:
- Black Lives Matter Reno-Sparks
- Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Action Fund
- Northern Nevada Working Families
- Northern Nevada Progressive Coalition
- Northern Nevada Marches Forward Together
- Progressive Democrats of America, Reno
- Battle Born Progress
- Indivisible Northern Nevada
- Get Involved Nevada
- Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates
- Organizers stressed the protest would be a peaceful event.
According to the three Facebook event pages for the protests, around 300 people said they were attending and over 700 people said they were interested in the event as of Tuesday morning.
Trump's visit comes 10 days after the Charlottesville protests and his comments in which he said there were "fine people" among the white supremacist protesters.
To this, Bob Fulkerson, state director and co-founder of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, said: "Hate cannot be normalized."
"Ordinary people don't need to ask themselves anymore what they would do during the Holocaust or during the civil rights movement because you're facing these questions right now on how you deal with racism," he said.
Sharon Brown, president of Action Together Nevada, said the protests Wednesday were two-fold: On one hand, it's a protest against Trump - and specifically against his comments on Charlottesville - and on the other, she said it's "to show everyone that the left supports our veterans."
"Somehow the message has been lost that people on the left care about our veterans," Brown said. "Many of us Democrats have served in the military, and there are many of us out there that have lost our loved ones, too."
Brown said organizers will also be collecting donations at the protest for the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home expected to open in 2018.
American Legion reaffirms opposition to hate groups ahead of Trump visit
Reno Assistant Police chief Jason Soto said there will also be an increased police presence in the area including officers and deputies from the Reno Police Department, Sparks Police Department, Washoe County Sheriff's Office, Carson City Sheriff's Office as well as members from federal partners. Soto said police are anticipating "citizens who are in support of the sitting president and those who are not."
"We're here to protect the security of everybody involved," he said.
In preparation for protest crowds, the Reno Police Department is blocking off South Virginia Street from Peckham Lane to South McCarran Boulevard, Kietzke Lane from Packham Ln. to Firecreek Crossing and Redfield Parkway from Baker Lane to Virginia St. Road closures will be in place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Soto said it wasn't uncommon to block off areas during a presidential visit that "are in support or in opposition" of the president. He said the protest groups did not require a permit for this protest.
According to the city of Reno's planning guide to apply for a special activity or special event permit, "Special events sometimes attract First Amendment, or free speech, activity such as selling of expressive merchandise, protests, petition gathering and leafleting.
"Generally free speech activity is permitted to be inside and within sight and sound of an event."
As of now, the Washoe County Republican party said they aren't organizing any sort of counter protest and haven't caught word of any other organized demonstrations. Though, they did received a few emails from individuals who say they plan on being there to support President Trump.
Joe Plenzler, a spokesperson for the American Legion, said sitting presidents have traditionally spoken at the Legion's national convention since at least 1925 when President Calvin Coolidge was in office, so tomorrow's visit and the accompanying protests are "nothing unusual."
"We have all confidence in the Secret Service and the regional law enforcement agencies," Plenzler said. "It's in their hands."
Protestors and counter-protestors alike should be aware that it is technically trespassing to stray from the specifically designated protest areas, according to Ben McDonald, spokesperson for the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. He said he curb surrounding the convention center property should be considered the line in the sand.
RSCVA owns and operates the convention center, but when groups like the American Legion come in and license the space they essentially become the property owners; they can decide who's allowed on the land and who is not.
"Whoever is licensing that space has a right to use it in a private manner," McDonald said. Protesters did not need to obtain a permit because the event is considered First Amendment activity, Lauren Ball with the city of Reno said.
Soto suggested to not bring children, pets, backpacks or anything that will appear suspicious to the protests. Brown also suggested those who wanted to attend to bring water, sunscreen and wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
"We ask that everybody at the event will be respectful of one another," Soto said.
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