Authorities in Cleveland, Ohio, are adding fuel to an already “combustible” atmosphere, some activists say, as the city readies extra jail space and courtrooms and shuts down a local university to house 1,700 riot police and their weapons in preparation for demonstrations at next week’s Republican Party convention.
Democracy Now! reported Thursday that city officials “say some courts will be kept open almost 24 hours per day in case protesters are arrested en masse. Authorities have also opened up extra jail space to hold protesters.”
The decision to shut down classes at Case Western Reserve University to house riot police drew ire from students and faculty, as one professor described in Belt Magazine:
Imagine my surprise[…] when I learned that not only would CWRU be housing approximately 1,700 riot police in student dormitories during the Republican National Convention, that not only would those police be permitted to store their weapons in student dormitories, and that not only would widespread student opposition to this decision be placated with two milquetoast Q&A sessions—”opportunities to learn,” President Barbara Snyder called them—but that my colleagues and I, with only one week’s notice, would be expected to cancel a week of summer classes in order to accommodate the quartering of the paramilitary force descending on Cleveland to police the city during the convention.
Adding tension to the situation in Cleveland is the fact that several Black Lives Matter protests last week sawmass arrests and violent behavior from police, leading civil rights groups in Louisiana to sue the Baton Rouge police force for violating demonstrators’ First Amendment rights—not to mention the fatal police shootings of two black men in St. Pauland Baton Rouge a week prior.
In Cleveland in particular, there is widespread distrust of the police department that fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and then lied about the circumstances of the killing to cover themselves.
Police nationwide have also been on edge since a lone gunman ambushed a peaceful protest in Dallas, killing five officers.