Protests gain steam on Day 2 of Republican convention but no reports of violence

Protesters against Donald Trump stand up to a man they perceive to be a 'bully' by carrying guns outside the Republican National Convention in the open-carry state of Ohio.
Mr Micah Naziri, 39, turned up to protest in Cleveland's Public Square with a AR-15 style rifle and a pistol. He spoke with police who asked him for permits for his firearms. He said law enforcement officials were very cordial with him.
Mr Micah Naziri, 39, turned up to protest in Cleveland's Public Square with a AR-15 style rifle and a pistol. He spoke with police who asked him for permits for his firearms. He said law enforcement officials were very cordial with him.ST PHOTO: JEREMY AU YONG

CLEVELAND, Ohio - After a relatively subdued first day, protests gained steam at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday (July 19).

There were isolated incidents of confrontations between competing protesters but no reports of violence.

The scene of most of the drama was the public square in downtown Cleveland that has become the main gathering place for protesters.

A convergence of two large groups of protesters - a civil rights group and a Christian conservative group on Tuesday afternoon - threatened to turn ugly but hundreds of police officers streamed in the park to separate the two groups.

Officers on bicycles surrounded the park as hundreds of others formed a line between the two groups.

Just moments earlier, a scuffle had broken out between famed right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and anti-Trump protesters, forcing police to quickly escort Mr Jones to an unmarked vehicle and remove him from the area.

 
 
 

Tension had already been high on Tuesday after a false alarm about a shooting near the convention. There had been news reports about a police transport vehicle being shot at but Cleveland Police later said that no such incident had taken place.

"There were no shots fired on any of our police transport vehicles right now near the Quicken Loans Arena," the authorities said in a statement. "We called all transport vehicles. They reported all clear."

Concerns about gun violence had been high ahead of the convention due to Cleveland's laws that allow people to carry guns openly as well as the outbreak of violence in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, at least two heavily armed men turned up at Cleveland's Public Square to join in protests.

Mr Micah Naziri, 39, turned up with an AR-15 style rifle slung around his shoulder and a pistol in a holster, saying he was doing it as a protest against Mr Donald Trump. He was asked by law enforcement to show his permit for a silencer on his firearm and he duly complied.

But he told The Straits Times that the police had been very cordial with him.

"They kind of circle around but then I ask them if they have a question... I think I'm generally a happy guy," he said.

The second day of the Republican convention featured speeches by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.