In anticipation of the 2024 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Milwaukee, Governor Tony Evers declared a state of emergency.

Announced on May 29 ahead of the Republican’s four-day political circus from July 15 to 18, the measure was part of the extensive logistical arrangements required for events of such magnitude, ensuring safety and security for attendees and residents. Governor Evers emphasized that the declaration is a proactive step.

“We are committed to maintaining safety while respecting the rights of individuals to engage in peaceful protests,” said Governor Evers.

The emergency status allows for the mobilization of additional law enforcement resources, both within Wisconsin and from neighboring states, through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).

The Department of Homeland Security has classified the RNC as a National Special Security Event (NSSE). Such events typically attract large crowds, including high-profile participants and dignitaries, necessitating heightened security measures. The City of Milwaukee, as the host, is responsible for ensuring the safety of the convention’s impacted areas.

The state of emergency also allows Governor Evers to activate the Wisconsin National Guard and mobilize additional law enforcement resources. That includes temporary arrest capabilities for officers under EMAC from July 13 to July 19. However, there are clear instructions to ensure the measures do not impede peaceful protests or media activities.

It is not an unprecedented move. Similar emergency declarations have been issued for past RNCs in cities like Cleveland in 2016 and Tampa in 2012. These measures are standard practice to ensure public safety during large-scale political events.

“An emergency declaration is aimed at helping make sure the necessary resources are available to respond to any potential emergencies, continuing event planning and preparation steps, and ensuring the safety of the hosting community as well as event participants,” said a spokesperson for Governor Evers.

The U.S. Secret Service will lead the convention’s security efforts, securing the main sites, while the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) will coordinate local law enforcement with assistance from thousands of additional officers.

An MPD spokesperson stated, “The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) appreciates Governor Evers’ action to declare a State of Emergency for the Republican National Convention (RNC). MPD’s main priority is the safety of our community during the RNC. Declaring a State of Emergency is an action that has been used in the past as was the case for the 2016 RNC in Cleveland. MPD continues to work with our local, state and federal partners to ensure public safety.”

The four-day event, held at the Fiserv Forum from July 15 to July 18, will necessitate concerted security efforts from multiple law enforcement agencies as Milwaukee welcomes convention delegates and attendees.

Wisconsin’s firearm regulations, which preempt local government restrictions, have sparked considerable debate. When thousands of visitors travel to downtown Milwaukee, guns will be legally allowed within the proposed soft security zone.

A city ordinance establishes a 15-square-block “Security Footprint” where citizens are prohibited from possessing tennis balls and water, bottles but are allowed to carry fully loaded AR-15 assault rifles and other firearms.

Milwaukee City Attorney Evan Goyke said it would be difficult for the Common Council to restrict guns in the area even if they wanted to.

“State statute precludes local government from regulating firearm possession beyond what is regulated in state statute,” Goyke said. “Every local unit of government, including the City of Milwaukee is preempted, or precluded from, additional regulations beyond state statute.”

Wisconsin law allows for carrying a concealed weapon with proper licensing, but prohibits the sale, transportation, use or possession of fully automatic weapons.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s office issued a statement that addressed handguns being permitted within the RNC security perimeter.

“This is really a broader issue than just a Convention matter. State law ties the hands of local government when it comes to reasonable restrictions on firearms. It would certainly have been our preference to keep guns out of the demonstration area.”

Alderman Robert J. Bauman voiced strong concerns about the implications of Wisconsin’s gun laws during the RNC.

“We are prohibiting citizens from possessing tennis balls and water bottles while allowing them to possess fully loaded AR-15 assault rifles in the Security Footprint established for the Republican National Convention,” Bauman said. He highlighted the potential dangers of allowing firearms in an area designated for First Amendment activities, calling it “a recipe for disaster.”

The city and state authorities said that they are continuing their work together to balance security needs with the preservation of civil liberties.

Following the Governer’s declaration, it was reported that the GOP’s convention website showed the skyline of Ho Chi Minh City, not the host city of Milwaukee.

It was a mistake of global proportions. Boston Globe journalist Sam Brodey went to the convention website and discovered that the background image showed Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, not Wisconsin.

The photo was eventually replaced with one of Milwaukee, but not before other outlets noticed the gaffe.

In response to the RNC’s mistake and insult to Milwaukee, DNC Rapid Response Director Alex Floyd said in a statement that:

“Maybe if Donald Trump and the RNC actually bothered to have a real campaign operation in Wisconsin, they could tell the difference between Milwaukee and Ho Chi Minh City. We encourage them to continue going all-in to win the voters of Ho Chi Minh City while Democrats earn the votes of Wisconsinites.”

Wisconsin Democrats also took advantage of the blunder, creating a comical t-shirt design that read, “I attended 2024 RNC convention in Milwaukee, WI, USA Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.”

“The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon rolled out the spoof ad, which featured a voice-over from Fallon’s Donald Trump. It began over footage of a tropical white sand coastline.

“Next month the RNC invites you to experience beautiful Milwaukee, because it’s time for Republicans to take our country back. From the Capitol building to the White House, we’ll celebrate the wall on our southern border.”

The parody video went on to show images of the Taj Mahal, a White Castle restaurant, and the Great Wall of China.

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Shutterstock and Wisconsin Democrats