CLEVELAND, OHIO ― This week, the Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (Ohio NLG) and the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP received over a dozen reports of door knocks at the homes of local activists and community members by law enforcement officials with the Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s’ Cleveland Field Office, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, and Cleveland Division of Police.
“The purpose of these door knocks is simple: to intimidate the target and others in an effort to discourage people from engaging in lawful First Amendment activities,” stated Jocelyn Rosnick, Co-Coordinator for the Ohio NLG. “We are concerned these visits will chill the free speech activities of individuals wishing to lawfully protest and that individuals who are not planning to be involved in the RNC are being harassed due to their associations.”
“Throughout history, we have seen the infiltration, surveillance, and harassment of political and social groups to disrupt and discredit their operations. These activities can no longer occur in the shadows,” said Cleveland NAACP President Michael L. Nelson.
During the visits, officers asked about past home addresses, political and social affiliations, and RNC-related activities. The public should be aware that these visits are occurring and know their rights. If you are visited by law enforcement at your home:
You are not required to answer any questions or to allow the officers to enter.
- Ask if officers have a warrant and, if so, ask for it to be slid under the door to see the date, address, judge’s signature, and items to be searched for.
- A search warrant does not require you to answer any questions or to assist with their search.
- If the door has already been opened, step outside and close it behind you.
- If the officers do not have a search warrant, end the encounter by stating “I do not consent to you entering. I do not consent to you searching my home. I will not answer any questions.” Do not physically interfere if they force their way in.
- Ask the officers to slide their cards under the door.
- Alert the Ohio NLG at (216) 5050-NLG (654).
The Ohio NLG will hold a Know Your Rights training on Friday, June 24 at 7:00pm at Guide to Kulchur (5900 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, OH 44102). While media may be present, this program may not be video or audio recorded.
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