CLEVELAND (CN) — Temperatures climbed Tuesday as Republicans confirmed Donald Trump as their nominee for president and on the streets of Cleveland tensions between factions of demonstrators surrounding the Quicken Loans Arena also heated up.
Sondos Mishal, a 17-year-old student from Akron, told Courthouse News that Trump has “made being a Muslim a dangerous thing.”
Mishal, who was born in Pakistan and has lived in the United States for nine years, said she already feels as though she wears a target on her back, and is worried that a Trump administration could spell open season on people of her faith.
Though Mishal was not alone in her sentiment — hundreds of folks wearing graphic anti-Trump shirts and carrying placards with slogans condemning Trump’s views on women, Muslims, Mexicans and others — Public Square was just as populated with Trump supporters.
Julian Raven, a New York artist, stood behind his colorful 6-by-4-foot painting of Trump’s head juxtaposed against a soaring bald eagle carrying an American flag in its talons over planet Earth.
Raven, originally from England, made the drive from his Upstate New York home to promote his art, which is political, he said he is careful not to criticize those who don’t share his views.
“My art is positive,” he said. “It’s easy to criticize, but there’s nothing to gain from it. There’s a lot of hateful art from leftist artists, and on the right, too, but I have a lot of respect for artists, both left and right, who keep it positive.”
Julia Shearson, executive director of the Council on American-Muslim Relations in Cleveland, said she came to the protest to speak about Cleveland police with philosophy professor Cornel West — specifically, about Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black junior high school student who was shot to death by police while playing with a toy gun.
“We looked at the number of police, and I feel that there’s 15 police for every protester and it’s to the point where it’s oppressive and violates our freedom of speech rights,” Shearson said.
A man wandered through the crowd carrying a sign: “Socialism Sucks!”
“It’s responsible for over 100 million deaths worldwide,” said the sign-bearer, Timon Prax of Cleveland, a political activist affiliated with Turning Point, whose Internet home page calls it a “Student Movement for Free Markets and Limited Government,” and whose slogan is “Big Government Sucks.”
As the day progressed, relations between factions of demonstrators heated up. On the Tower City side of the arena, three Christian demonstrators carried large signs telling the crowd to repent. One of them, a man with a megaphone, spewed a stream of wrathful Biblical verses to the crowd as two gay men embraced in a long, passionate kiss behind them.
“Our goal here is to change the discourse a little bit,” said Nathan Stathower, who attended the protest on behalf of STAT, Stand Together Against Trump, a nonprofit group of doctors. “We want to show a more positive vision for what our country is and what it can be.”
Stathower said STAT members have not yet picked a presidential candidate, other than anyone but Trump.
STAT is a non-partisan group that does not endorse any particular candidate. Maybe something like,
“Stathower explained that STAT is a non-partisan group that doesn’t endorse a specific candidate, but they feel strongly about opposing Donald Trump’s dangerously racist, sexist and anti-immigrant stances.”
Reports of fights breaking out in Public Square circulated, and police presence increased, with officers local, federal and out of state. Heavily armed Homeland Security agents stood solemnly outside the barricades protecting the arena locals call the “Q,” where patriotically dressed delegates filtered in through checkpoints to take their seats inside the convention.
One white police officer tenderly escorted an elderly black woman down the sidewalk around the barricades.
Scores of police officers circled the Public Square protests, wearing bike helmets mounted with cameras. Large lines of police units moved in formation down city sidewalks, fist-bumping other units as they walked by.
Meanwhile, inside the convention, rumors of delegate mutiny proved untrue, as the state delegations stuck to their commitments to Trump. The delegation from Colorado, whose state went to Sen. Ted Cruz, was greeted with loud boos. Kansas, another state that went to Cruz, was also booed.
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski spoke for the New Hampshire delegation, proudly dedicating the bulk of delegates from his state to “my friend, Donald J. Trump.”
The crowd jeered its host state, Ohio, for declaring its delegates to Gov. John Kasich.
Some confusion occurred during the delegate pledges when Michigan and New York passed on their votes. But it soon became apparent that the moves were to ensure that the delegation from New York, led by Donald Trump Jr., would give Trump the delegates he needed to lock up the nomination.
The house band, which included G.E. Smith of “Saturday Night Live” fame, broke into “New York, New York” while the arena’s big screens flashed the message “Over the Top.”
After the inevitable celebration, the party continued recognizing state delegations as they piled on their delegates’ votes.
As the sun set outside the Q, the fury of protesters waned. The only noticeable conflict in Public Square just before dusk was an actual Ping-Pong match that began as the humidity broke and the crowd mellowed.
There was plenty of chatter that protests nearby were getting out of hand, but no indication of any substance behind the rumors.
On the other side of town, newly formed super group Prophets of Rage played the historic Agora Theater and Ballroom, a heritage music venue in Cleveland.
The group, composed of members of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, performed in protest of the very presence of Trump to a sweat-soaked crowd amped by the music but soggy from lack of ventilation and air-conditioning in the decades-old downtown building.
“I just heard that Donald Trump just landed in Cleveland,” vocalist Chuck D., formerly of Public Enemy, told the crowd.
The group said 100 percent of its ticket sales were going to a local charity that combats homelessness.
“You know that the government uses [Rage Against the Machine] songs to torture people at Guantanamo Bay, right?” guitarist Tom Morello told the crowd. “We sued the State Department unsuccessfully, but tonight we avenge that.”
The concert carried the same youthful tension and anger that hovered over the city’s protests and the convention itself, a tension that put people’s frustrations with government on showcase, but offered little to alleviate it.
- Suspected Escape Attempt Keeps Bundys in Jail
- Trump Children Modify Night of Attacks