CLEVELAND–Cleveland on Tuesday witnessed the closest thing to organized unruly protests it’s seen so far during the Republican National Convention, but despite some tense moments, the gatherings were mostly disjointed and more hype than action.
Numerous rag-tag protest groups and self-identifying anarchists took to the streets and occupied various public spaces throughout the city. Some argued for criminal justice reform, others protested against police brutality, and others simply showed up to protest Donald Trump.
“I just thought I needed to come and be counted in opposition,” said Jim Dunyak, 55, a statistician who drove to Cleveland with his wife from Massachusetts “If Trump were to actually win, I don’t think it’s really likely, but its certainly possible, I can say at least that I stood on a street corner and I opposed him.”
Earlier in the day assorted groups of five to 10 protesters and individual actors came together at Public Square only a few blocks from the Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention is being held, to voice opposition to various aspects of the Republican Party and the federal government.
There were African American men talking about Tamir Rice; a group of women assembled a collage of black placards with comments such as “stop the violence;” there were women in pink skirts offering free hugs; and one man brought an iguana.
Things did turn tense when 9/11 truther Alex Jones of InfoWars made an appearance, but he didn’t last long. A scuffle broke out with protesters, and Jones was escorted away by police but not arrested.
As Jones departed, a group of 20 protesters with the Revolutionary Communist Party marched in. Their chants of “Send those killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell” visibly angered the police officers who had gathered at the park. Police reacted by creating a barrier between those protesters and the other groups attending.
While small scuffles sent bystanders scrambling for photos and video on numerous occasions, most of the protests remained peaceful demonstrations. At all times police outnumbered protestors by significant margins—a noticeable occurrence throughout the city. By 5:30 pm, the park went back to individuals holding up signs silently and a group playing bongos and tambourines. Most protesters cleared out and soon police followed
It’s a trend that has been very visible so far during the convention. Protests are short-lived, not just because of over whelming police numbers but also lack of organization.
Protest groups were originally expected to be much more organized and significantly larger but the gatherings thus far have turned out to be sparsely attended and frequently cancelled.
Some protesters who came to Cleveland specifically to protest against Trump were disappointed with the turn-out but not shocked.
“I think people are scared away because there’s been constant talk about open carry law in Ohio — and that (the city is) braced to process 1,000 people a day at the police station. I think we all were expecting some huge catastrophe and it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen,” said Cynthia Hale, a Cleveland resident.
“Why they haven’t come out, I don’t know. I’m just wondering if we all misread and misjudged the attitude here. I don’t know.”