July 7, 2016
By Neil Cosgrove
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spells trouble for many, with a capital “T” that rhymes with “C,” as in Cleveland, where the Republican National Convention will be held from July 18 to July 21, 2016.
Mr. Trump’s racially tinged form of identity politics has sparked strong passions among groups who feel vilified and threatened by his rhetoric, leading to violent confrontations between his supporters and protesters at primary season rallies in Chicago, San Diego, San Jose and other locations. Consequently, Cleveland’s police force expects to put 2,500 extra officers on the streets during the convention, according to WKYC in Cleveland’s website. In contrast, Meghan Keneally of ABC News reports that Philadelphia is planning to employ a little more than 1,000 officers and agents to keep the peace at the Democratic convention.
The U.S. Secret Service will control security in a so-called “hard zone” of a little more than 100 yards around the Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention will take place. The Cleveland police will be in charge of all areas beyond that zone, and have announced they will pursue a variety of tactics to control crowd movements and avoid confrontations. Deputy Chief Edward Tomba says officers will not be wearing riot gear or carrying “military-style equipment … unless the situation dictates … .” Police on bicycles will be employed to block streets and move units from place to place.
In anticipation of possible mass arrests the city has contracts with nearby municipalities for extra jail beds. “A team of lock-breakers” will be on hand, according to the Wall Street Journal, “in case people chain themselves to objects or other people to try to disrupt events.”
Nevertheless, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association has called the city’s lack of preparation “irresponsible,” and Cleveland’s recruitment of officers from external sources has yielded mixed results. Greensboro, NC decided in late May not to send 50 officers to the convention, in part because Cleveland was not providing Worker’s Compensation insurance. Charlotte, NC had provided such insurance for the 2012 Democratic convention.
“In recent weeks, I have spoken with Police Administrators who have experience in planning for an event of this magnitude,” Greensboro Deputy Chief Brian L. Jones wrote in a memo to city officials, “and they express a lack of confidence in the City of Cleveland and their preparedness for the RNC.” A Federal Judge has ruled Cleveland’s narrow parade and protest restrictions “unconstitutional” and pushed the city to issue withheld permits. Local rights organizations have criticized “intimidating” visits by Homeland Security, Secret Service, FBI and city police to local activists.
The National Lawyers Guild and the Rustbelt Medics are coordinating legal support and medical assistance for the Cleveland convention.
A list of activist events scheduled to take place before and during the Republican convention is as follows:
- The People’s Justice and Peace Convention will seek to “lift up issues and problems that we believe the RNC will either ignore or not genuinely address.” The event will begin with an address by Michael Eric Dyson at Olivet Church on Friday, July 15. After more sessions at Olivet on the 16th, this gathering will move to the larger Masonic Auditorium at 3615 Euclid Avenue on Sunday the 17th.
- Keep the Promise Cleveland March and Rally will “remind the Republican party—and the nation—that the fight for social justice is not yet won.” Scheduled for11:20 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 17. No location given. Contact Jacqueline Burbank of the AIDS Health Foundation.
- End Poverty Now March for Economic Justice, sponsored by Organize Ohio and 28 other groups, will begin at 12 noon on Monday, July 18th and march to Quicken Loans Arena.
- The Coalition to Stop Trump and March on the RNC plans to begin at Cleveland Public Square at 1 p.m. on Monday the 18th and end at the Quicken Loans Arena around 3 p.m.
- CodePink will screen “The Brainwashing of My Dad,” a film by Jen Senko “examining the rise of right-wing media through the lens of her father” at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19th at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Rocky River, OH.
- Super-group Prophets of Rage plans to hold a concert on Tuesday, July 19th at a time and Cleveland venue to be determined.
- Stand Together Against Trump will be “a peaceful demonstration directed at opposition to the racist and sexist language and policies of Donald Trump” scheduled for 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. in downtown Cleveland on Thursday July 21st. The group hopes to have 10,000 people march from two locations, Ohio City and Sterling Park on the East Side to Erieview Plaza.
Neil Cosgrove is a member of the NewPeople editorial collective and the Merton Center board.