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Tense moments outside GOP National Convention

Police keep the peace among protesters outside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Photo by Neil Steinberg.

CLEVELAND — The hundreds of police at Public Square in Cleveland kept their cool while being reviled — and praised — during the second day of the Republican National Convention as the relaxed mood of opening day turned tense, and hundreds of protesters, media and the curious packed a square loud with speeches and shouts.

The shift began an hour earlier with a Christian group, the Bible Believers, setting up next to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, haranguing the crowd against gays and Muslims, supporting the police and denouncing Black Lives Matters. Their signs read, “Every Real Muslim is a Jihdist!” and “Homo Sex is Sin.” As they had the day before, police moved in with numbers, using their bicycles to form a defensive screen around the religious group, numbering about a dozen, some wearing hats that read “Obey God.”

Meanwhile, a group of apparent revolutionaries formed under an enormous sign showing the faces of those killed by police officers. They chanted “The whole damn system is guilty as hell!” and carried signs announcing “America was NEVER Great!” and denounced the entire American system as being corrupt and in need to complete revolution.

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Just before 5 p.m. writer and activist Cornell West arrived and made a brief, impassioned speech.

“When we talk about Black Lives Matter, it’s a matter of recognizing the vicious legacy of white supremacy in this nation that goes back 400 years,” West said. “And no power is going to turn that around.”

Author and activist Cornell West outside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Photo by Neil Steinberg.
Author and activist Cornell West outside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Photo by Neil Steinberg.

He also urged the crowd to “keep love at the center” of their protests, and to recognize the humanity of the police, who gradually opened up the center of the square, using their bicycles, as the main group of activists marched off into the city.

About 5 p.m. a group of police rode off, to the applause of bystanders in front of the Terminal Tower, who called out thanks for their service.

Crowd thickens, tensions rise in Public Square near Quicken Loans Arena, site of the Republican National Convention. | Neil Steinberg/Sun-Times
Crowd thickens, tensions rise in Public Square near Quicken Loans Arena, site of the Republican National Convention. | Neil Steinberg/Sun-Times

Police separate protesters as the crowd thickens, and tensions rise in Public Square near Quicken Loans Arena, site of the Republican National Convention. | Neil Steinberg/Sun-Times
Police separate protesters as the crowd thickens, and tensions rise in Public Square near Quicken Loans Arena, site of the Republican National Convention. | Neil Steinberg/Sun-Times
Police keep the peace among protesters outside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Photo by Neil Steinberg.
Police keep the peace among protesters outside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Photo by Neil Steinberg.