Downtown Cleveland on Day One of the Republican National Convention

The packed streets surrounding the 'Q' and the Public Square have the odd look of a tent circus under military occupation. Except the performers are roaming free among the attendees and the city police, state troopers, Secret Service and private security details are as cheerful and friendly as ushers. P.T. Barnum could not have imagined it better. Hawkers push all manner of Trumpanalia from pop-up stands. There are musicians and street artists. Christian zealots scream messages of anger and hate through megaphones while their acolytes pass among the milling congregation handing out pamphlets. A large black man, his body covered in silver paint, is shouting something but no one seems to be listening. Code Pink ladies of various ages, brandishing signs skewering capitalism and big government and corruption in general, snake cheerfully through the throngs in their glittery finery—earthbound trapeze artists. A man in a skullcap with an automatic rifle slung across his chest makes his case that “The Fourth Reich will never happen here.” A Black Lives Matter contingent carries a huge billboard into the square. Skirmishes break out and are deftly neutralized by cops on bicycles. Major news outlets broadcast from large, plastic-sheathed cubes, their giant TVs imaging the goings-on inside the arena. Important-looking people in suits, hung with badges, hurry back and forth. It's hot. It's noisy. It feels at once historic and pointless. If there were not so much at stake, this circus could be fun.

Marie Harris July 2016

rnc 2016

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