Hundreds of demonstrators gather on convention’s last day

CLEVELAND, OH (AP/WCMH) – About 150 protesters carrying signs saying “Ban All Trumps Not Muslims” and chanting “Love Trumps Hate” marched across a Cleveland bridge Thursday afternoon as the four-day GOP convention neared its prime-time finale.

The protest by a group called Stand Together Against Trump drew little notice outside a heavy police presence. Officers on rooftops watched through binoculars, while police on bicycles pedaled along the streets with no other traffic.

The anti-Donald Trump forces scheduled an evening rally in downtown’s Public Square that was expected to draw a bigger crowd. Trump was set to accept his party’s nomination Thursday night.

The demonstrators, in sweltering heat pushing above 90 degrees, dutifully followed the city’s designated route for protest marches.

“Trump is trying to use the moment to divide us. He’s trying to use the moment to gain personal power,” said march organizer Bryan Hambley, a Cleveland doctor.

Officers got between the marchers and a few conservative religious counter-protesters to make sure no skirmishes broke out.

A few women said they were protesting misogyny and hate speech after seeing Trump T-shirts sold that made hateful comments about women and Hillary Clinton.

“I think I’ve heard enough hatred to fill a lifetime this week,” Laurie Arbeiter, who is from New York, said. “I think of the little young children, boys and girls walking by, hearing that as normative speech, acceptable, nobody stopping them, no adults stopping this.”

Among the signs she and others placed in the intersection was one that read, “The Trump campaign is an insult to our intelligence.”

Another man decided he had seen enough protest signs. Drew, from Cleveland, showed up with a sign that read, “God hates signs” on one side. He stood behind a religious protester and told NBC4 his goal was to make people laugh.

“And I have, everyone’s taking pictures and telling me how great it is,” Drew said. “I just want to make people have fun. Like I said, if we can’t laugh, we can’t have fun, why are we all here?”

The 23 protest-related arrests reported since Monday were well below what law enforcement officials had feared. Seventeen of the arrests came Wednesday, during a melee that erupted during a flag-burning outside an entrance to the convention arena.

Organizers of that event denied on Thursday that the man holding the American flag was on fire and said police used that as an excuse to move in.

Two officers were assaulted and suffered minor injuries, police said. The charges against those arrested included failure to disperse, resisting arrest and felonious assault on a police officer.

That included a disorderly conduct charge against Gregory “Joey” Johnson, whose torching of a flag at a GOP convention three decades ago led to the landmark 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said flag-burning is protected by the First Amendment.

 

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