'We Can Stand Together': Protesters Prep for Cleveland as RNC Nears
About 50,000 people are expected to take part in protests and rallies for the four days of the convention
Cleveland, Ohio is preparing for what many expect to be a volatile Republican National Convention (RNC) on Monday, as protesters and supporters converge on the city and controversy around presumptive nominee Donald Trump and his divisive running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, continues to build.
About 50,000 people are expected to take part in protests and rallies for the four days of the convention, from July 18-21. The Guardian reports that thousands of police officers, secret service, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents "swarmed the downtown area throughout the weekend."
As Common Dreams reported last week, officials are readying extra jail space and keeping courts open late "in case protesters are arrested en masse."
Activists are rallying against Trump's caustic rhetoric, now signature to his speeches, as well as the issues of police brutality and racism—particularly significant in Cleveland, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by officers in November 2014.
In addition, activists plan to rally around the issue of housing. Community organizers say the poverty-stricken city has lost 17 percent of its residents due to predatory practices; in 2008, Trump pushed students of his for-profit education company Trump University to use similar schemes to target low-income communities. "Investors Nationwide are Making Millions in Foreclosures...AND SO CAN YOU!" read one advertisement from the real estate mogul.
Meanwhile, Trump's fan base is also expected to make a showing. Due to Ohio's "open carry" laws, many are expecting his supporters to be armed—which could further increase tensions.
"Should violence break out during protests in Cleveland, open-carry activists bearing long-gun rifles may distract officers, frighten demonstrators, or inadvertently endanger themselves," CityLab said last week.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said during a press conference Sunday that no firearms will be allowed inside a "hard perimeter" around the Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention will take place.
Two highly anticipated dueling rallies supporting and opposing Trump are set for Monday, along with a slew of other counter-RNC events. The opposition protest is organizing under the slogans "Dump Trump, Say No to the Republican Agenda. Stand Against Racist, Anti-immigrant and Anti-Muslim Attacks. We Demand Peace, Justice and Equality."
The Facebook event page for the protest reads, "Inside the convention hall, Republicans will promote their agenda of bigotry, racist discrimination, Islamophobia, war, and austerity. On the streets of Cleveland, we will demand Peace, Justice and Equality!"
Smaller marches that took place throughout the weekend reportedly went smoothly. An estimated 100 people gathered downtown on Saturday against racism and xenophobia, rallying for eight hours amid speeches from prominent activists like Cornel West.
"We want the world to know that we can stand together," West said.
Malik Shabazz of Black Lawyers For Justice, a rally organizer, also spoke.
"Mr. Trump is an uncouth racist," Shabazz said. "But it's not just Mr. Trump. It's an indictment on America. That a racist can be a hair away from being in the White House is an embarrassment for America."