Kicking off on July 18 in Cleveland, Ohio, the Republican National Convention will face protesters from both sides of the political aisle. As bizarre as it sounds, opposition to Donald Trump's impending nomination, along with Cleveland's protest rules, has managed to unite Democratic and Republican voters who would be at each other's throats in nearly any other political situation. Trump has been forced to meander his way through these dissenters before entering events in the past. Now, Cleveland is prepared to deal with thousands of people determined to exercise their right to civil disobedience on the Republican Party's biggest night of 2016.
In the months leading up to the Convention, anti-Trump group organizers have submitted applications for public gathering permits to the city of Cleveland, along with estimates of how many people they're expecting to show. According to Cleveland's local NBC affiliate WKYC, the Stand Together Against Trump group predicts at least 10,000 individuals to join them on Monday. The group was founded by Bryan Hambley, the chief resident of internal medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and is made up of numerous medical professionals determined to defend their Muslim colleagues against racially-charged rhetoric. In an interview with Cleveland.com's Andrew Tobias, Hambley stressed that he was opposed to Trump, but not to the Conservative Party as a whole; he also mentioned that he was concerned for women and people of color:
There are a lot of Muslim physicians in the city of Cleveland. Some of them are in our group, but all of us work with them. And the rhetoric of shutting down immigration and banning Muslims has been shocking to us.
Another anti-Trump group, The Coalition to Stop Trump, is expecting somewhere around 1,000 people. Other groups include pro-Trump organizations, as well as bipartisan ones who hope politicians will represent their interests during the convention.
It's likely that other less official groups will protest outside of the convention without having filed for a permit. Most notably, one of those organizations could be Black Lives Matter, whose Cleveland wing has refused to cooperate by the city's standards. In an interview with USA Today, Cleveland BLM organizer Kareem Henton denounced a city-mandated "approval process for a constitutional right." If the organization chooses to participate in protests, its presence will be significant. In 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by a Cleveland cop, spurring protests on racial discrimination and law enforcement training nationwide.
Still, many other activists have flocked to social media to create their protesting plans, although it's unclear whether they'll protest in person during the actual event. One Facebook group, called "Resist the 2016 Cleveland RNC," has gained over 1,500 followers.
In response to the influx of permit applications, Cleveland authorities have designated a protest "route" that legal activist groups, like the ACLU of Ohio, have characterized as unnecessarily restrictive. The Cleveland Police Department has spent the last several months preparing itself for this event and protests without permits will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Taking into consideration the city's strict protest rules, the Republican Party's nominee choice won't be the only source of controversy.