RNC in Milwaukee: Everything you need to know

(NewsNation) — Over 50,000 people are expected to gather in downtown Milwaukee for the start of the 2024 Republican National Convention.

The city of Milwaukee has created an extensive safety plan for the area surrounding Fiserv Forum and the rest of the convention site.

Roads near the site are closed off and parking is restricted in certain areas.

Here is everything to know about the upcoming RNC in Milwaukee. 

What is the Republican National Convention?

Republicans will gather at Fiserv Forum convention site from July 15-18 to officially name former President Donald Trump the party's nominee for the November election.

Trump is also expected to announce his pick to run for vice president.

Trump has not announced his decision yet but sources confirmed to NewsNation last month that he has narrowed his potential running mate list to North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Ohio Senator JD Vance and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

What to expect at the Republican, Democratic national conventions

Trump’s campaign would only say the top criteria is who will be a “strong leader” and that Trump is the only person who knows who he will pick as his running mate.

The first Republican National Convention was held in 1856 in Philadelphia.

While the conventions produce a fair share of memorable speech moments, the candidate confirmation process has a very public impact coming out of the event. The conventions represent the unification of a party, which may have been splintered on some fronts entering the event.

RNC transportation restrictions

Parking and driving restrictions have been put in place to account for the additional traffic around Fiserv Forum and the surrounding area. Temporary road closures will begin as soon as July 11 near the security perimeter.

Eastbound I-794 will be closed at the Jackson St. / Van Buren St. Exit, and North/Westbound will be closed at the Carferry Dr. Exit from 5 a.m. to midnight on Sunday, July 14.

Additional restrictions are in place between 5 a.m. and midnight on Sunday, July 14, for the RNC kickoff event at Henry Maier Festival Park.

Starting Sunday, July 14, at 6 p.m., the area marked in red above is restricted to the general public and can only be entered by people with convention credentials through one of the set checkpoints.

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The area marked in yellow on the public access security map is called the Vehicle Screening Zone. It is open to the public, but beginning Monday, July 15 at 2 a.m., anyone driving into the zone must go through a vehicle checkpoint marked on the map with a black dot.

Pedestrians and cyclists can enter the yellow Vehicle Screening Zone like normal with no screening required.

A full list of road closures is available on the City of Milwaukee website.

RNC parking restrictions in Milwaukee

An updated map has been released to help visitors and residents park in downtown Milwaukee before, during and after the RNC.

Residents living in the zone marked in yellow can enter the zone through an access point marked with black dots on the map.

Refer to the map above for a detailed breakdown of parking restrictions through the next two weeks.

Public transportation near the RNC

The Milwaukee County Transit System's bus routes downtown and connecting routes will be marked outside the security perimeter, primarily at major intersections.

Service will run during typical hours, but riders should anticipate some delays. More details will be posted on the Milwaukee County Transit System page closer to the convention.

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Milwaukee's streetcar The Hop will maintain its normal service schedule and route from the Third Ward to the East Side.

Restaurant and business access during the RNC

Restaurants and businesses located within the yellow zone will be accessible through the vehicle screening checkpoints but establishments within the red zone will be closed to the general public during the RNC.

Residents and visitors should call ahead to check if business hours are the same and whether a reservation is required while the convention is taking place.

Business owners have been split on the economic impact they're expecting from the convention.

“We’re anticipating it creating a lot of hassle but bringing a lot of business,” said Ryan Cooke, the director of operations for Heard Hospitality, told Wisconsin Public Radio.

“From an events standpoint — dining, private events, parties, shut-down-the-restaurant, etc. — the convention has absolutely been a disappointment,” Cindi McLeod, spokeswoman for Lupi & Iris, a restaurant in Milwaukee, told the Recombobulation Area. “There are not as many inquiries as hoped, and in general terms, there is not a lot of excitement around the convention. I’m sad for Milwaukee. We really wanted this. We really wanted to shine. We were really excited to host these events."

RNC protest zones

Protesters will be given two outdoor stages, under a security plan law enforcement authorities released Friday.

North of the convention site, the city will set up a stage on Dr. M.L.K., Jr. Drive near McKinley Avenue with microphones and speakers.

Courtesy: City of Milwaukee

To the south, there will be a stage set up at Zeidler Union Square Park. The city has also designated a parade route for those wishing to march.

Courtesy: City of Milwaukee

Demonstrators pushed back, arguing that the plan’s protest zones are so far from Fiserv Forum that they won’t be seen or heard.

On Monday, a federal judge ruled protesters can't march through the perimeter after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit alleging the city delayed releasing a parade route in a way that amounted to a violation of free speech rights.

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"The Coalition members have the right to march in protest of the RNC. Their right to do so lies at the heart of the First Amendment. But the First Amendment does not allow them to protest or parade in any way they choose," U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig wrote in his ruling.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Coalition to March on the RNC, a group of local and national organizations including the Milwaukee Democratic Socialists of America, immigrant advocacy group Voces de La Frontera and the American Party of Labor.

Protesters have complained that the city is keeping them too far away from the convention site, which is inside a security perimeter where credentials are required to gain access. Protesters have wanted to march inside that security zone.

Gun safety at the RNC

People will be allowed to carry guns within blocks of the Republican National Convention area.

No weapons of any kind will be allowed within the inner perimeter but people will be able to carry guns openly or concealed elsewhere as allowed under state law.

Wisconsin statutes outlaw only machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and silencers.

“It’s about behaviors,” Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said. “So, understand that there is going to be that level of surveillance and monitoring that that’s the particular right that you like to express. Just don’t do anything that could be considered a threat or harm to the public.”

More on the Fiserv Forum

Fiserv Forum opened in late August 2018 after 26 months of construction. It replaced the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee's former sports and entertainment center that was demolished in 2019.

The venue hosts up to 200 events each year, including sports games, concerts, family shows, and other entertainment events.

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The venue was slated to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention before the event was downsized drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

When and where is the DNC?

Democrats will gather at Chicago’s United Center from August 19-22.

President Joe Biden appeared to be a lock for the party’s nomination heading into a debate with Trump in late June.

However, following last month’s debate — a performance in which Biden struggled with halted delivery and, at times, incoherent responses — calls for the president to step aside in favor of other potential Democratic nominees have grown.

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