Protests, discord, and heightened security announced the start of the Republican National Convention (RNC) on Monday as thousands marched on downtown Cleveland calling on the GOP to reverse its racist policies and "Dump Trump."
The peaceful March on the RNC ended with a rally outside the heavily-fortified perimeter that encircled the Quicken Loans Arena during which participants denounced the "racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim" policies of the GOP and its presumptive nominee Donald Trump.
Among the over 40 organizations that took part in Monday's demonstration, activists with CODEPINK dressed like "GOP billionaires" to call attention "to the millions who live in poverty while others, like weapons manufacturers, are making a killing off of killing in America’s endless wars," the anti-militarization group said in a press statement.
The group also took part in the End Poverty Now! demonstration Monday afternoon, which sought to highlight the fact that the convention is being held in one of the nation's poorest cities.
"Cleveland will be holding a celebration for a political party that has distinguished itself over the past generation by rolling back the gains of the Civil Rights and anti-poverty movements of the past, and has done everything in its power to defund and disempower residents of Cleveland and residents across the United States," protest organizers declared.
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Meanwhile, inside the RNC, the "Never Trump" coalition led by the group Delegates Unbound on Monday reportedly garnered enough support to force a full vote on the national convention rules with the aim of untethering delegates. Or, as Politico put it, "a move intended to provide a platform for anti-Trump voices and to embarrass the billionaire."
Submitting those signatures would force a roll call floor vote from all 2,472 delegates to the convention on the Republican National Committee rules that an 112-member panel voted through last week. Those rules required pledged delegates to vote for the candidate dictated by their state’s primary or caucus results, a system that would allow Trump to clear the number of votes he needs for a nomination. The faction is hoping those rules will be voided and replaced with rules that allow delegates to vote their conscience.
At the same time, Trump surrogates have been aggressively attacking Republican detractors for not falling in line, according to another Politico report.
The presumptive nominee will reportedly give an unexpected address on Monday evening while introducing his wife, Melania, who is scheduled to speak after former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. The theme of the week is the Trump staple, "Make American Great Again," with Monday's sub-theme being, "Make American Safe Again."
The full line-up of speakers, which includes the star of the 1980s series Charles in Charge Scott Baio and Duck Dynasty patriarch Willie Robertson, is available here while live stream of events can be viewed here.
Critics say that the RNC schedule amounts to little more than "distractions and divisiveness," while the nation continues to grapple with real and pressing economic and social issues.
"Voters want less Duck Dynasty and more debt-free college, less Charles in Charge and more ideas that put workers in charge, coming from their presidential candidates," said Kait Sweeney, press secretary for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
"As Trump increases the volume on D-list celebrities, distractions, and divisiveness. Hillary Clinton and Democrats are keeping the volume high on popular progressive ideas like debt-free college, expanding Social Security, Wall Street reform and a public health insurance option," she added. "The contrast for voters is stark."