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Lawsuit against RNC adds Sheriff Williams’ concerns to legal arguments

Agencies ready to help with RNC
Agencies ready to help with RNC

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The lawyers asking a judge to stop or scale back the Republican National Convention are using comments made Monday by Sheriff Mike Williams to bolster their case.

In a brief added to the group’s lawsuit, the lawyers quote Williams saying, “We are simply past the point of no return to execute the event with safety and security.”

The suit seeks to have a judge require the RNC and the Trump Campaign to “present a comprehensive plan to avoid or minimize the nuisance during the Republic National Convention and require accountability measures to assure it is implemented.”

The additional brief filed Tuesday said if the judge doesn’t require a comprehensive plan and requires the city to enforce it, the current protocols will be ignored by the RNC organizers and the Trump campaign.

To back up that assertion, the lawyers pointed to the recent visit to Jacksonville by Vice President Mike Pence to meet with the RNC host committee, saying that while a mandatory mask order was in effect, “committee members and major funders failed to wear masks event when in close proximity to one another” at the event at Epping Forest. The lawyers included a photo from a tweet from State Rep Cord Byrd showing people positing for photos without masks or social distancing as an exhibit.

The lawyers wrote that it is “clear that this court cannot reasonably expect Defendants RNC and Trump Campaign to voluntarily comply with safe practices at the recommendations of the CDC, it is also clear that local authorities will not voluntarily enforce safe practices against the Republican party or Defendants.” The motion contends defendants have “repeatedly demonstrated their disregard for COVID-19 safe practices” and that pattern of behavior is permitted to continue in Jax “it will pose a catastrophic health nuisance” for the city and Northeast Florida.

The lawyers said daily testing of as many as 40,000 attendees and visitors is problematic at best because the city with all its testing sites would not be able to test that many people every day, and that doesn’t include local residents. The motion also points to the lag time in getting test results, that can reach five days or longer.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for July 28.

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.