This piece is part of RISE NEWS’ coverage of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up to date information and check regularly on risenews.net throughout the week.
The third floor of Cleveland Public Library’s main branch is currently home to one of 18 touring copies of William Shakespeare’s 1623 First Folio and an original print of John James Audubon’s Blue Jay.
Swing by the library during the Republican National Convention, and chances are you’ll have both of them, along with every other artifact and tome in the collection, all to yourself.
Just before 6:00 PM closing time on Monday afternoon, librarians said they had seen no more than 30 people over the course of the entire day, less than one-fifth of the usual, non-Convention weekday traffic count.
This atypical tranquility might have registered as a minor curiosity amidst leather-bound labyrinths and underneath vaulted ceilings, where peace and quiet are familiar companions. But even around Cleveland’s downtown and waterfront districts, where Convention-week carnage of various orders and magnitudes has been predicted if not expected, unanticipated placidity was the order of the day, and it did not go unnoticed.
“So far you haven’t seen anything bad happen, and I hope we don’t. I hope it stays peaceful,” Eric, a Cleveland-native said while walking on a break from his downtown catering job.
Eric had helped direct myself and another RISE NEWS reporter to Willard Park, one of three designated downtown protest zones, along with Public Square and Perk Plaza.
At Willard Park, demonstrators lounged without controversy or confrontation in the shade of trees and E-Z UP tents.
At Public Square, the locus of the day’s activity, speakers alternated through a prearranged schedule of turns at a stage and PA system with relatively little discord.
One man with an AK-47 slung across his shoulder drew a crowd, as did a lineup in hats embroidered with FEAR GOD and signs reading “HOMO SEX IS SIN,” but neither demonstration erupted into violence.
An unidentified black woman representing the Cleveland-based Imperial Women’s Coalition was arrested by a team of several police officers in the middle of her speech.
Witnesses who had been in queue behind the stage when the woman was handcuffed speculated that she had had an outstanding warrant for her arrest from a prior interaction with officers within the past three to four weeks.
You would have been hard pressed to walk or drive through downtown on Monday without some interaction with the police, as officers led motorcades, directed traffic, and patrolled the streets and sidewalks by foot, by bike, and by horse.
Joining Cleveland Police Department and Ohio State Highway Patrol officers were badges from Indiana, Michigan, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, and California, walking reminders that the city has taken steps to prepare for outsized personalities and events both inside and outside of Quicken Loans Arena.
On Monday, at least, the tone outside was decidedly low-key.
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Cover Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWS