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Militiamen, Artists And Many Protesters Flocked To Cleveland's Public Square For The RNC

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 20, 2016 3:12AM

The morning after the kick off to Donald Trump’s dystopian carnival—a.k.a. The 2016 Republican National Convention—began slowly. Groups of supporters, detractors and politicos of all stripes gathered to push pretty much every agenda one could imagine—for an attentive audience of reporters and onlookers.

Crowds were mostly still small as anti-police brutality and anti-war activists, armed militia members and artists that support and oppose Trump's agenda gathered in several areas around the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, where Trump secured the GOP nomination Tuesday night.

Lou Pumphrey, a Vietnam veteran who came to media row in full uniform with a large peace flag on his shoulder, said that while the swarm of Republicans and other right wingers might not have liked his message, they didn’t insult him. “I’ve been insulted before, called names but not here. I think they respect the uniform—they might not like the peace statement but they respect the uniform.”

Pumphrey said he was disappointed in both parties but disgusted more by Republicans. “They’re all war hogs...Donald Trump is such a 24-karat fraud. He says ‘I love war.’ He got five deferments in the Vietnam war. If he loves war so much why didn’t he volunteer for combat in Vietnam?”

Other anti-war activists spoke early in the morning in Public Square, which was designated a “free speech zone” for the convention. A group of veterans holding a large banner that read “we stand with our Muslim sisters and brothers,” denounced Trump’s policies to a small crowd.

“I’m a Muslim, so I worry about my family and my own safety when you hear politicians say Muslims need to be profiled and banned from entering the United States,” said Ramon Mejia, who comes from an immigrant family and served as a Marine in Iraq in 2003. Other veterans, including a woman who was the victim of sexual assault and a gay member of the military also came to denounced Trump.

Julian Raven, who was born in London, grew up in Spain and lived in the United States for 20 years before obtaining his citizenship however, was in town to stump for Trump. Raven was perched on a monument in the Square, showing off a large copy of a painting of the Republican Presidential nominee he calls “Unafraid and unashamed.”

“Trump’s the consummate executive, trained through a lifetime of executive experiences in the school of hard knocks who is supremely qualified to become the chief executive of our country,” said Raven. “I’m an executive, I’ve had companies, I’ve had employees, I know the mechanics of executive thinking. Trump sweats executiveness, that’s what he is.”

Raven, a born-again Christian of more than two decades, said the original painting measures 7 feet by 15 feet, weighs 400 pounds and took him more than 600 hours to create. “It’s a prophetic painting. It’s Trump as president. When all the other candidates were running, I know this man was chosen. He’s not just chosen by the people, he’s chosen by God.”

While Public Square was relatively calm most of the morning, as the day wore on things got more intense.

A demonstration called by the Revolutionary Communist Party to protest police brutality was flooded by police, some clad in riot gear and others who had pepper spray and tear gas at the ready after Alex Jones appeared and tried to push his way to the front to cut off protesters.

Shortly after, white supremecists, militia members, the Westboro Baptist church and a cavalcade of unspecified bigots showed up, with some saying they were on hand to “defend the police.” With each passing minute, the situation grew more tense as more police spilled into the relatively small square. Although a few minor scuffles occurred, no arrests were made, according to reports.

Eventually, the group of anti-police brutality activists marched out of the square and took the streets, flanked by large numbers of police on bicycles. Several times they marched towards streets that connected to the convention center, but each time the were thwarted by law enforcement trying to keep them as far away as possible. While they were kettled and threatened with arrest several times, none were made.