Demonstrators peaceful on first day of GOP convention

CLEVELAND, July 18 (UPI) — Several protests took place in Cleveland on the opening day of the Republican National Convention, but they remained peaceful.

A group in support of Donald Trump took over the official parade route under the banner “America First.” About 200 people were at the rally Monday morning, some toting guns though the application said 5,000 would show up.

Dozens of members of the group Bikers for Trump showed up on their motorcycles to provide security for the group, called Citizens for Trump.

At about the same time, Prophets of Rage, an anti-Trump coalition, staged an anti-poverty rally without a permit on the other side of the city.

Black on Black Crime, Inc., which has marched with Black Lives Matter-affiliated protesters, was scheduled to protest Monday.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization, handed out packets of “Islamophobin” — actually chewing gum — to cure Islamophobia. Packaging says Islamophobin treats “blind intolerance” and “unthinking bigotry” and advises patients to “take two and call a Muslim in the morning.”

On Sunday, a gun-rights rally took place in Cleveland’s public square but it attracted only two people.

Steve Thacker, 57, a computer engineer, held a variety of weapons — a Bushmaster Predator rifle with camouflage detailing over his shoulder, a .45 caliber handgun strapped to his thigh and ammunition around his waist.

“I feel like one light bulb with a zillion moths,” Thacker told NBC News, a half mile from Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention opens Monday.

The organizer, Rich Medlar, said about 35 people promised to attend the event.

On Sunday, a Cleveland man was charged in the theft of a gas mask from a police officer after an anti-Trump protest through downtown Cleveland.

Joselito DeJesus, 38, is charged with one count of petty theft in Cleveland Municipal Court, court spokesman Ed Ferenc said. He pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned Monday morning, and he remains in Cleveland city jail on $1,000 bond.

DeJesus was released from Cleveland city jail on Friday after he was arrested and charged in another petty theft case, a court document shows.

More than 1,700 volunteered to pose nude for an anti-Trump photo shoot set up by New York-based artist Spencer Tunick. He had sought just 100 women.

They participated in his “Everything She Says Means Everything” group photographic art.

According to his website, the photograph involved women “holding large mirror discs, reflecting the knowledge and wisdom of progressive women and the concept of “Mother Nature” into and onto the convention center, cityscape and horizon of Cleveland. The philosophy of the artwork relates to the idea of the sacred feminine.”

Tunick has traveled around the world to create still and video images of multiple nude figures in public settings.

A variety of extremists are expected in Cleveland this week, according to the Los Angeles Times:

They include Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based organization known for its virulent anti-LGBT agenda and for protesting military funerals; the New Black Panther Party, a black supremacy group that has advocated violence against law enforcement officers in the past but has no connection to the original Black Panther Party American Freedom Party, a white nationalist organization whose president once was mistakenly listed among Trump’s California delegates; Blood and Honour USA, a racist skinhead group; the Oath Keepers, a militarized group that patrolled Ferguson, Mo., with firearms during protests after the shooting death of Michael Brown; Anti-Black Lives Matter, run by Jim Stachowiak, a former campus police officer urging attacks on Black Lives Matter protesters at the convention.

In preparation for trouble, authorities have cleared out 1,000 spots in local jails and overflow centers and opened the courts for 20 hours a day.

With a $50 million security grant, Cleveland police purchased 10,000 plastic handcuffs, 2,500 interlocking steel security fences and 2,000 sets of riot gear.

The head of Cleveland’s police union, Steve Loomis, called Sunday for the governor to suspend open-carry gun provisions during the Republican National Convention, but Gov. John Kasich said he did not have the power to suspend gun rights.

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