Dear Right-Wing Protesters,
Please don’t destroy the city of Cleveland or its people who have opened their doors to a candidate and his followers who we may not vote for, but we will still treat with with respect and decency. Most of us will, anyway. We are, however, wary of your intentions.
In fact a lot of Clevelanders have left town. Entire offices have been abandoned for the week. People are working from home, other offices, or taking vacations. “Working remotely.” We’ve been planning on that for months. We will admit to a fairly high level of caution and fear that has grown over the past year.
At first we were concerned that there would be no candidate with a majority and that the convention would be truly contested, perhaps to the point of violence between the supporters of various candidates. I even had this brief fantasy of settling the candidacy with a cage match at Browns Stadium. That vision somehow fit with the whole unreal reality show that the primary show became.
We certainly never expected an election season like this when we bid on it in 2014. I’m sure most of you didn’t foresee it either.
We spent the extended campaign/primary season repeating, “Surely Donald Trump will fall any day now.” But here we all are.
To those who will be protesting on religious grounds:
Cleveland is a city of a wide variety of perspectives on religious issues, from being the headquarters of the liberal United Church of Christ to the Latin-rite St. Peregrine Catholic Church and various Orthodox Jewish congregations.
We are used to religious protests. For years a conservative Protestant group would gather weekly on the sidewalk in front of Dunkin’ Donuts in West Park–the men in conservative suits, the women in long, dark print dresses, their hair pulled up under a lace band. Various Catholic, and later Protestant, groups held regular vigils and blockades outside Planned Parenthood.
The Westboro Baptist Church (I did not link to their site intentionally) is scheduled to bring its brand of religion to Perk Plaza on Wednesday, July 20. Planes have been flying overhead already pulling banners with “Rescue Unborn Children” on them. We expect to have various other groups here to witness for their beliefs.
We’ll do our best to remember the Golden Rule. Please do the same.
To those who will be here to protest in favor of Donald Trump:
That’s a little confusing. He won. You won. The mainstream GOP “Dump Trump” movement went down in defeat. There’s not much left to protest. Granted, a lot of your fellow Republicans and conservatives are holding their collective noses and will vote for Trump only because they see no other choice. But a raucous protest rally against people on your side will do nothing to endear you–or your candidate–to the people whose support you need to win.
The America First Unity Rally will be on Wednesday from 11:30 AM-5 PM at Settler’s Landing, a public park on the East Bank of the Flats along the Cuyahoga River. It should be pointed out that Citizens For Trump, the sponsor of the Rally, was one of two groups given special permission to have events outside of the normal places and times set for protests during the RNC as a result of a lawsuit filed on their behalf by the Ohio ACLU.
The rally agenda has not been posted on the event page–but it includes appearance by Alex Jones and a number of other speakers. With five days to go before the rally the organizers have raised less than $5,000 of their $30,000 goal. Sponsors include Women United for Trump, Tea Partiers for Trump, Vets for Trump, and Millennials for Trump. One assumes it will include speeches, music, etc. in the style of most political rallies. It’s not clear that it will turn into the sort of chaotic affair that many Trump rallies became, with infiltration by protesters and others. Donald Trump is not listed as a speaker.
And a Trump-style rally, without Trump in attendance, will probably not end well. It’s one thing when your leader yells “Get ’em outta here” from the podium and police and security rush to do his bidding. But that same standard probably won’t apply to a rally held on public land in Cleveland. The treatment of protesters in private venues where Trump rallies were held is one thing and it became obvious that special standards applied there.
But I hope that prediction is not true and that Trump’s citizen-supporters have a successful, energetic rally on the banks of the Cuyahoga. It’s a lovely spot. I hope they leave it the way they found it.
To those conservatives who will protest against Donald Trump:
Well, you will probably have lots of sympathy, even if those who offer it to you don’t share your political beliefs. There will be lots of local watering holes where you can take off your official credentials and hoist a beer or three and find some solace. We won’t tell.
To those who will bring guns to RNC demonstrations:
It says more about you than about the state of safety at the Convention.
There are several thousand police, security, FBI, Secret Service and troops to provide protection to delegates and attendees. Your weapons are not needed for that purpose.
The official government-related law enforcement officers will most likely outnumber you. They will certainly outnumber the delegates. They are there to protect everyone–including you. Remember, you are at a rally that’s purpose is to help elect the next civilian leader of our government. If you have an anti-government agenda, you may be in the wrong place.
Yes, you have the right to both open and concealed carry during the RNC. Ironically, toy guns are banned, because, well, no one could tell if they were fake. So the assumption is that all guns carried by individuals will be real. So fellow citizens, police and other protesters will have to act accordingly.
“Acting accordingly” will mean that many individuals will stay away. So if your intent is to intimidate, you can be assured of succeeding. I’m sure that at least a few people will come with that intent and they will be seen walking the streets of downtown Cleveland decked out in their personal arsenals. They will be given, in most cases, I imagine, a wide berth.
The police and many others are concerned about the presence of so many weapons during the RNC, but outside of the Secret Service-controlled area, there is nothing that can be done because of Ohio gun laws. But with Bikers for Trump and the New Black Panther Party both advocating that members who can legally do so come armed, the situation does seem particularly dicey.
We’ll have to hope that the argument made by gun advocates that “when everyone is armed, people are on their best behavior” actually holds up.
Because if the unfortunately not unthinkable, in the wake of Dallas, happens in the midst of a diverse crowd of armed individuals, it may be difficult to tell the “good guys with a gun” from the “bad guys with a gun.”
So keep your safety on and your finger off the trigger. We don’t need any accidents. We hope that there will be no incidents.