Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson on Monday said the National Guard's presence in the city, where the first 2020 presidential debate is being held on Tuesday night, will help ensure the safety of its residents.
Jackson introduced the Cleveland Police Department, the Secret Service, FBI and National Guard during a virtual hearing on Monday to take questions from residents about the city's plans to keep the peace.
"Even though a lot of your attention and your questions may be around the demonstration and the protests and security...this is a historical debate...and what our job is to do is to minimize all of those distractions that may occur that...would not allow for people who are viewing the debate to really get the essence of the two candidates," Jackson said.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams reiterated the importance of the National Guard's presence in helping the police department.
"We have taken every precaution to make sure that while people can exercise their constitutional right to free speech, that they do it in a safe and secure manner, again, with the community in mind," Williams said.
He added that the police department has set up road closures in certain downtown areas and have a prohibited-items list in the areas surrounding the debate venue, the Cleveland Clinic's Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, announced in a Sept. 24 tweet that he would deploy the Ohio National Guard ahead of the first 2020 presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Black Lives Matter Cleveland President LaTonya Goldsby told local news outlet WKYC that the group was organizing a peaceful protest outside the debate venue on Tuesday, and speakers from other groups will be in attendance.
"We are looking to get together and have a peaceful demonstration and talk about the issues as it relates to Cleveland," she said. "This presidential debate has just created chaos within the city."
Fox News host Chris Wallace will be moderating the debate, set to air at 9 p.m. EST.