CLEVELAND, OHIO — Perhaps we would be wise to expect the unexpected.
The first day of the Republican National Convention was expected to be an irresistible magnet for protesters and boosters of presidential hopeful Donald Trump alike. Recent weeks even saw the American Civil Liberties Union sue the city over proposed marching routes that would have kept demonstrators far away from the secure zone around the Quicken Loans Arena.
With tensions rising nationwide after a string of deadly encounters involving police, the heavy police presence in downtown Cleveland has taken on an added, sober dimension. After three officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana the largest police officer’s union in Cleveland went so far as to [ask Governor John Kasich to suspend Ohio’s open carry firearms law] for the duration of the event here.
Yet the expected mass demonstrations have yet to materialize on the streets of the city, as you’ll see below. While the occasional armed civilian has been spotted with a handgun strapped to their thigh or an assault rifle slung over their shoulder they have been the exception to the rule so far. Instead at some events the police appear to outnumber civilians.
Indeed there almost seem to be more people, and action, inside “The Q” (the local name for the Quicken Loans Arena) than in the streets of Cleveland. Before the Convention the big buzz was around the Drump Trump rally, which fought to get a permit to rally and march. The end result: a few hundred marchers in the streets.
Large events like these attract all types — scrappy entrepreneurs, veteran politicians, and social media platforms — all looking to make their mark.
You never know who you are going to run into. In this case our team crossed paths with former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Across town internet celebrity Alex Jones threw an “America First Unity Rally” to showcase speakers in the right wing of the Conservative movement. Our team managed to hit the rally after it’s height.
According to a police officer detailed to the event, there were perhaps two hundred more attendees at the height, who left after Jones departed.
While the crowd gave a smattering of applause for gun rights advocates and local members of the Tea Party movement they got on their feet for Milo Yiannopoulos.
The internet celebrity and blog entrepreneur known by his Twitter handle Nero roused the crowd. Yiannopoulos stuck to his classic “anti-PC” themes, tossing around language once limited to comedians “working blue.” Yiannopoulos, who is gay, appeared to particularly delight in using the term that is reserved as a slur for homosexuals.
At some point after the rally Yiannopoulos played a role in a Twitter campaign against Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones which lit up the social network with calls for a solution to the systemic harassment issues on the platform, making Yiannopoulos the hardest working pundit in the alt-right.
Inside the Quicken Loans Arena the delegates gathered. Earlier in the day saw an attempted revolt by some state delegations, which wanted to force a roll call vote. By the evening session order had been restored as everyone was on hand for the headliners.
We want to thank our partner — WCPN ideastream — for sharing their space with us this week.