It is going to be hot in Cleveland this summer. The average temperature in July in Cleveland, Ohio, is 83°F, but I believe it will be much hotter than that this July. It is going to be hot and it is going to be ugly. Not that Cleveland isn’t used to ugly, but next month they are likely to get a triple-dose of ugly and hot. Why? The Republican National Convention will be held in Cleveland from Monday, July 18 through Thursday, July 21. Given that merely hearing the name of the presumptive nominee sends some people into a fit of rage, and given that the man himself incites rage and riots everywhere he goes, it is a pretty safe bet that there will be plenty of violence to keep Cleveland’s Finest on their toes next month.
As I mentioned, Cleveland is used to ugly, being ranked the 5th most dangerous city in the U.S. among cities with a population over 200,000 in 2015. Their violent crime rate is 1,478 per 100,000 people and the murder rate is 14 per 100,000. (Data courtesy of Law Street Media). Look for those numbers to increase in 2016.
About 30 members from white supremacist hate-group, Traditionalist Worker Party, plan to attend in order to “make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs.” This is the same group that held a rally in Sacramento, California last weekend where at least five people were stabbed. In addition, another hate group with whom we are all familiar, the Westboro Church group, plans a “display of art” and has filed for a City Hall permit to use the city’s official “speaker’s platform” in Public Square for a half-hour beginning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19. It remains unclear exactly what they are protesting. Several other groups plan to attend to protest outside the convention hall, though most are smaller and not known for extreme violence. What could possibly go wrong, right?
Although Cleveland claims to be well-prepared to deal with the additional 50,000 people expected to visit the city during the convention, some suburban police departments that were prepared to partner with Cleveland are now backing out, claiming the risk to their officers’ safety is too great.
Initially a “protest zone” near the site of the convention had been mapped out and hours that protests would be allowed were defined. But enter the ACLU, who filed a lawsuit claiming the hours and the zone itself were “too restrictive”. Banned items included backpacks, water guns, sleeping bags, tape and string. Note, however, that guns will be allowed in the protest area. Can anybody deny that this is a recipe for disaster? And just out of curiosity, when did string become more dangerous than guns??? U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin threw out the original “protest zone” plan, sending planners scurrying back to the drawing board. Changes in plans at this late date can only add to the chaos, as police departments have long since completed their plans for attempting to maintain order and will also need to return to the drawing board.
Generally speaking, cities vie for the honour of hosting an event of this magnitude. It means extra revenue will be derived from hotel rooms, restaurant and bar fees, public transportation, sightseeing and other activities in which visitors might engage. But in this case, I strongly suspect that the ultimate cost will far exceed the additional revenue and it may be a long time before Cleveland even wants to see another Republican, let alone host an entire convention of them. I just hope the cost does not involve lives lost, but at this point, I would not be surprised at all.
Inside the convention hall, Quicken Loans Arena, the U.S. Secret Service will be responsible for security and no guns will be allowed except in the hands of law enforcement. It is unlikely that there will be too many unmanageable problems there, though I wouldn’t bet against it.
To add to the drama, there still remains a possibility, albeit a slim one, that the Republican National Committee will find a way to deny Trump the nomination, in which case Trump supporters have promised that total chaos will ensue. I seriously do not expect that to happen, but it is something to keep in the back of our minds.
Perhaps the best thing for the city of Cleveland would be torrential downpours … constantly … for the entire four days of the convention. It wouldn’t keep all the idiots away, but it would deter some. As for me, I am happy that I will be nowhere within several hundred miles of the fiasco, reading about it all on my laptop and writing my usual snarky assessments.