Thursday, the first large-scale group protesting the Republican National Convention will gather in Cleveland. It’s holding a convention of its own, complete with a march through downtown. The National Convention of the Oppressed runs from July 14 through the 17. Organizers say they want their message heard, but they do not want violence.
The National Convention of the Oppressed is sponsored by a group called Black Lawyers for Justice. Hassane Muhammad with the organization says this convention is for people who feel disengaged and left out from both parties. They don’t think either candidate represents them or issues that affect them -- like oppression, voting rights and police brutality.
Over the four days, most events like a town hall meeting and economic seminar take place at Second Ebenezer Baptist Church on East 71 Street.
Although on Saturday, protesters will participate in The National March and Rally Against Racism, Injustice and White Supremacy. It will leave from the church, pass The Q and end at Perk Plaza.
The Convention and march are co-sponsored by more than 60 different groups including Black Lives Matter and the New Black Panthers. Appearing to correct some reports, the leader of the New Black Panthers tweeted Wednesday, “I have not told anyone to bring any type of weapons to the Republican National Convention.”
Anyone, including protesters, can carry a weapon in the city during the RNC if they do so legally. Weapons are not allowed inside The Q or in other special security zones. Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said they’ve dealt with this before.
“We’ve had people with assault rifles and hand guns, you name it. And groups of people. Our officers are used to it,” he said. “We’ll make sure that people stay within the perimeters of what’s allowed and what’s not.”