York's GOP delegates prep for Cleveland convention
With protesters expected to converge on Cleveland as the city hosts the Republican National Convention next week, security will be tight.
But some of York County's Republican delegates, all of whom have sworn their allegiance to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, said they're not worried protesters will disrupt the goings-on.
“I'm going to feel extremely safe out there because a large portion of the Republican delegation will be armed to the teeth,” said Matt Jansen Jr., a delegate from North Codorus Township who also is on the Spring Grove Area School Board.
When asked if he will be one of the armed delegates, Jansen said: “It is my intent.” But he declined to elaborate further.
Delegates packing heat won't be allowed to bring their sidearms into Quicken Loans Arena, site of the convention, but they will be allowed to bring guns into a special 1.7 square mile “event zone” around downtown Cleveland since Ohio is an open-carry state.
Jansen garnered headlines recently after he left an anti-Islamic phone message with a pastor. The pastor had placed a message wishing Muslims a blessed Ramadan on his Dallastown church's signboard. Jansen later apologized for the tirade.
Security: Joe Sacco, a delegate from Shrewsbury and a former Maryland police chief, said the threat of protests around the arena doesn't concern him.
“What happens, happens. I'm not worried about that,” he said, adding he does have concerns police officers could be hurt during civil unrest. “A lot of the delegates plan to carry (guns), but not into the convention.”
Sacco and Jansen said they also expect security to be tight in the hotel where Pennsylvania's 40-member delegation will be staying.
The hotel is several miles away from the convention, and delegates will be shuttled to and from the arena by bus. Additionally, the event zone will be under police watch.
Jansen likened the event zone to the “green zone” in Baghdad, Iraq. The green zone is a heavily fortified area that includes government buildings and a garrison of coalition and Iraqi forces.
Delegation: Sacco and Jansen are part of the three-member delegation that will represent the 4th Congressional District, which includes York and Adams counties and parts of Cumberland and Dauphin counties.
The third member is Marc Scaringi of Cumberland County. He couldn't be reached for comment.
Sacco, Jansen and Scaringi were elected delegates in the April primary, and all ran on the platform that they'd vote for Trump at the convention.
Three alternative delegates — Charlie Gerow and Edwin Matthias, both of Cumberland County, and Betsy Hower, of Adams County — also will make the trek to Cleveland. The alternates will fill in for the delegates if they can't make it to the convention.