The GOP convention may have been a bit of a trainwreck on the inside but things were a lot calmer than predicted outside the convention thanks to a large police presence.
Recall that in the weeks and months leading up to the convention there were protesters, many of them associated with Black Lives Matter, interrupting Trump events and getting manhandled or even punched by Trump supporters. There were raucous protests outside Trump rallies that often seemed on the edge of spinning out of control.
The GOP convention could have become a pitched street battle between protesters and convention-goers but it didn’t turn out that way. From the AP:
Police reported a total of 24 arrests during the four-day convention that ended Thursday night, a surprisingly low number that can be attributed to a massive police presence and to safety concerns that discouraged protesters and visitors from coming to Cleveland this week.
About 2,800 law enforcement officers from around the country joined 500 Cleveland officers for a security force that responded quickly to hints of trouble. Three hundred police officers patrolled downtown on bicycles, with Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams spending parts of two days riding along on patrols.
There was an attempt to “wall off Trump” by protesters wearing painted ponchos and some group tried to burn a flag. But that was about it. The AP notes that some of the protesters who were supposed to show up may have been put off by the prospect of violence:
“We had big groups that said they were coming in that got dwindled down to nothing,” said Larry Bresler, lead organizer of a Stop Poverty Now rally. “They weren’t coming to Cleveland because the fear of violence.”
The AP notes the shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Is that the violence protesters were afraid of? One thing that did not cause a problem was the state’s open-carry laws:
A small number of people openly carried guns during some of the protests but caused no reported problems. By the end of the convention, those who entered the Public Square with weapons were mostly ignored.
In short, people could exercise their 1st and 2nd Amendment rights and no one got hurt. At a moment when protesters around the country (and occasionally the president) seen intent on indicting police, the GOP convention was a reminder what a good job they routinely do on everyone’s behalf. Governor John Kasich tweeted out this video about the police effort:
Ohio showed the world what can happen when people work together and respect one another. https://t.co/z5DYSJxVjN
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) July 22, 2016