Media Contact

David Gwidt, ACLU of Wisconsin Deputy Communications Director,

June 6, 2024

MILWAUKEE – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit Wednesday night against the City of Milwaukee for severely restricting the rights of those seeking to protest during the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC). 

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of the Coalition to March on the RNC, argues that Milwaukee’s ordinances governing parade and protest activity directly violate the First Amendment by unlawfully limiting the locations where protesters can parade and exercise their right to free speech during the RNC.

The ordinance in question limits the coalition and other demonstrators to marching on an undisclosed parade route somewhere in a 90-square-block area around Fiserv Forum. Although the city claimed that it would provide a route within “sight and sound” of RNC venues, it has failed to identify any route whatsoever to date.

The First Amendment protects the fundamental right of all individuals to assemble and petition the government for peaceful redress of grievances. Milwaukee's RNC parade ordinance infringes upon these constitutional rights by limiting marchers to areas where their message will go unheard and unseen by those attending the convention.

The Coalition to March on the RNC proposed a parade route to the City of Milwaukee more than a year ago and will ask the court to order the city to allow that route to be used for its parade.  The coalition has announced that the parade will take place at noon on the first day of the convention, July 15.

“Milwaukee has been rolling out the red carpet for the Republican National Convention and all its attendees, spending millions on their security,” said Tim Muth, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Wisconsin. “But sadly, the city does not appear to demonstrate that same commitment to protecting the First Amendment rights of people who want to express opposing views on the streets of Milwaukee during the RNC.”

“Party conventions are major political events where Americans have always sought to make their voices heard, so it’s imperative that people can fully and freely exercise their rights,” said ACLU of Wisconsin Legal Director Ryan Cox. “We call on city leaders to amend this ordinance to ensure it no longer unconstitutionally infringes on First Amendment rights and respects the rights of all individuals to peacefully protest and engage in political expression.”