GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - East Carolina University Police held a press conference at the Murphy Center at ECU to discuss security protocols during President Trump’s rally this week.
President Donald Trump will be hosting a “Keep America Great” rally at Minges Coliseum on July 17 at 7 p.m.
ECU Police, along with with the secret service, is heading the security and safety of the event. Captain Chris Sutton from the ECU Police Department said due to the arrival of many dignitaries, some safety protocols will be enhanced.
“It’s our number one priority to make sure that we have the highest level of safety possible for this event,” Sutton said.
Jonathan Polk is a junior political science major at ECU. Though he says he may not always agree with President Trump’s policies, he’s excited to attend an event with the sitting president.
Polk said, “Not many people can say they actually got to see the president speak.”
As far are protocols involving protesters, Sutton has been in contact with two groups who plan to participate. He says he wants to make sure no one infringes on the groups’ right to free speech.
“We have been contacted by some groups that have the expectation and are planning to do some anti-protests, and then we also have some that plan to do some pro protests,” Sutton said.
Those protestors will have two designated and separated areas outside of the facility to do their demonstrations. Sutton hopes the separation will prevent any intimidation from other groups.
Also, for any groups that attempt to protest inside of the building or cause any distractions; if President Trump’s team asks those protestors to leave, Sutton says he will support their requests.
Greenville residents are planning to adjust to the predicted traffic and parking delays. Cary has lived in Greenville for 32 years. He doesn’t plan to go to the event and plans to stay in the house to avoid any congestion.
“Hopefully they’ll plan ahead of time. It’ll just be like a football weekend. So, if you’re going to go, go early, I imagine. And if you’re not, find something to do and stay home, or go on the other side of town,” Cary said.
Sutton says he understands that due to the congestion, drivers will be frustrated, but he asks for everyone’s patience.
Sutton said, “If you’re able to pick an alternate route, you may drive a little bit more miles, but you may have less time that you’re spending sitting and waiting.”
Traffic units will be on post as early as around 9 a.m. Wednesday morning and they will remain until the last car leaves the parking lot.
Minges Coliseum holds around 8,000 people. Sutton is expecting the facility to reach full capacity. However, if Minges does reach capacity, Sutton says there are streaming options available outside of the coliseum for those denied entry.
“Just behind where the main entrance would be, coming into the coliseum, will be almost like a carnival-space atmosphere that the campaign staff has panned for overflow. There will be a large screen television that will be live streaming the event,” Sutton said.
Sutton says parking will be free off of Charles Boulevard in the lower Minges lot, in front of Minges Coliseum, in front of the football stadium, as well as lots off of 14th Street. Participants are encouraged to get to the rally early, as the lots will fill quickly. Visitors can line up starting at 4 a.m. The gates will not open until 4 p.m. ECU Police plans to patrol the area to ensure no one is hanging around until the line-up time begins.
Sutton said, “We set the time to try and discourage individuals from camping out. It's just not a safe decision, especially with the heat.”
Due to the heat, Sutton reminds those waiting in line to stay hydrated as temperatures will be in the 90s. Greenville Fire Rescue will be available to assist in the event of a medical emergency. Overall, Sutton wants visitors to be patent, as this will be a busy day for ECU Police.
“Just have a lot of patience, and be respectful,” Sutton said.
ECU Police will be in cooperation with Greenville Police, the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, the Secret Service, and other higher law enforcement agencies to ensure the event goes smoothly.
Here is a list of prohibited items:
• Animals other than service/guide animals
• Backpack and bags exceeding size restrictions
• Drones and other unmanned aircraft systems
• Glass, thermal or metal containers
• Laser pointers
• Mace/pepper spray
• Selfie sticks
• Signs exceeding size restrictions (20' x 3' x 1/4")
• Supports for signs or placards
• Toy guns
• Weapons of any kind
• Any other items determined to be a potential safety hazard