Oskar Masco drops his backpack, pulls out a placard, holds it up over his head and gets to work, as he plans for the duration of the Republican convention. His placard read: “Trump Terrorises.”
He is a lone wolf in a sea of protestors, mostly at Public Square, which is close to the venue hosting the convention. Some arrive in small groups, some in hordes and still others in large rallies.
Most of them look well funded and organised, which is not illegal. Masco, a rickshaw-driver from California, is self-funding his protest, like the Republican nominee he is opposing.
A man in a large sun hat came by holding a man on a leash, walking on all fours and pretending to be a dog. He invited people to kick the “human dog” if they wanted Trump to win.
He was a Trump supporter, he said, and was soon yelling back at three anti-Trump protestors, joined soon by an African American man who said he was supporting Trump.
The debate underway in newsrooms and living rooms across the US has spilled out into the the streets in Cleveland, where Republicans started the process of picking their nominee on Monday.
Black Lives Matter activists walked around the city’s main square, fists in the air on Monday, alongside activists representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and an assorted lot of others.
Masco slipped into the rally, to become part of the larger collection, make a larger impact, catch the eyes perhaps of a TV crew or enterprising stand-alone bloggers.
“Trump is dividing the country,” Masco said, “turning people against people, against Muslims, against Mexicans.” As a half-Mexican himself, it’s quite personal, he added.
As the man walking the “human dog” yelled back at a protestor, Masco walked around them and held up a hastily scribbled placard that said: “This is what white privilege looks like.”
Needless to say the man and his man-dog were both whites. And they looked a bit concerned when Pierre Nappier, a burly African American, came to their help.
Nappier is supporting Trump, he explained, during a break from the yelling match. “He has brought out all the white supremacists from the closet, and out into the open.”
That may be a good thing, but isn’t it too cynical a reason to back the nominee? “No sir,” he countered. He said he is the founder of a local group he calls New Black Democrats.
And in this mix of protestors was Reverend Pamela M Pinkney Butts, a candidate herself for the White House, as she was in 2008 and 2012. It’s about running, not winning.
She can yell, yell back and out-yell anyone. And when she was done, she walked away after offering her phone number and advice: “Be safe. Things could turn ugly around here.”
Though prepared for it any time of day, security officials, as well as local residents, are expecting trouble on Thursday, the day Trump is expected to accept the nomination.