NationofChange at the Republican Convention: And So it Begins – Protests, Rallies Take Cleveland

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The Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio hasn’t even started yet and already I’ve covered three rallies and marches. It’s going to be a weird one.

With the area around the Quicken Loans Arena blocked off with seven foot high metal grated fences and concrete barriers protesters are going to have a hard time getting their voices heard to the thousands of Republicans inside. That doesn’t mean they won’t try.

The morning started with the an “Open Carry Rally” that was posted on facebook – several dozen were said to attend. They were protesting the minimal restrictions of security around the convention that disallowed the carrying of firearms around the Quicken Loans Arena. A someone sad single man showed up displaying his camo-clad rifle and handgun to the dozens of media that swarmed him. Supposedly there was another man there with a handgun… but I didn’t see him.

Web-RNC-SunJuly172016-100Due to the recent shootings in Baton Rogue of police officers – the Cleveland Police Union is calling for the states open carry to be paused during the RNC.

From CNN: “We are sending a letter to Gov. Kasich requesting assistance from him. He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point,” Stephen Loomis, president of Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, told CNN. “They can fight about it after the RNC or they can lift it after the RNC, but I want him to absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over.”

On to the next rally – this one with a more peaceful message. Sister Rita Petruziello of the Congregation of Saint Joseph organized an event that was to ‘circle the city with love’ – called Stand for Love.

Web-RNC-SunJuly172016-15Thousands of ralliers took to the Hope Memorial Bridge that overlooks Cleveland and the convention center with a brass band playing as they stretched over the span. Once they stretched from one side to the other they held hands in silence, some praying – and at least one child using chalk on the roadway, drawing.

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Web-RNC-SunJuly172016-33
Web-RNC-SunJuly172016-37The next protest on the other side of town took up down a more political route. A combination of Code Pink, Bob Avakian’s RevCom anti-police/pro-revolutionary protestors and an amalgamation of other groups marched, criss-crossing streets until they came to one of the miles of ‘walls’ that the RNC has put up around the city. The theme of the banners were anti-Trump but the protestors spoke to a wider message against the RNC and against the ‘racist police.’
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Web-RNC-SunJuly172016-68Presidential candidate and boot wearing man with a megaphone Vermin Supreme also joined the 200 or so protestors that occasionally had words with bike police along the route. No arrests or incidents of ‘clashes’ with the police along the several hour march. As I left the this march Code Pink was singing to RNC delegates that were going to a concert.
Web-RNC-SunJuly172016-54Monday at noon is the next planned march against Trump and then an hour later we open the first day of the convention.

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Zach D. Roberts
Zach D. Roberts is a photo/video journalist for NationofChange.org. His photojournalism has been featured in Time Magazine's Top 100 Photos of the Year, People Magazine's Photos of the Year and was awarded at FotoDC. Zach is co-produced Greg Palast's full length documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. He is currently working on a book about the #resistance of 2017.

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