By LORA-MARIE BERNARD
CLEVELAND (Talk Media News) – Jim Dunyak never wanted to protest until he saw Trump say something on television one night in June that inflamed him enough to act.
“He said waterboarding was not enough,” the 55-year-old Massachusetts resident said. He called Trump’s support of the practice a “return to torture.”
The statistician for a pharmaceutical company realized the GOP’s official inauguration for their presumptive nominee was just a few weeks away, so he joined the Coalition to Stop Trump and March on the RNC. He was one of dozens who set out at noon Monday from Cleveland’s main mall to the city’s Public Square and then to as close as law enforcement authorities would let them get to the location of the Republican National Convention at Quicken’s Arena.
“I’ve never done this before,” he said as he marched through Public Square. “But this is a different kind of candidate so I had to do something.”
The coalition was one of the Republican National Convention’s most controversial protest groups leading to Donald Trump’s nomination — when its permit was denied. Negotiations over the permit, between the filed by the American Civil Liberties and the city of Cleveland, didn’t end until July 12, a week before the protest was scheduled.
The protest’s organizers said that the multi-ethnic group represented 40 trade unions. Protestors said they represented three Midwest states. It was expected to be the largest protest of the week.
Moments before the National Coalition to March against RNC began, Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba casually walked along one of the main streets near the convention center, East Fourth St.
While media and delegates rushed by to enter and exit the convention, he said the department remained committed to their planned community policing policy — by foot, horseback and bicycle.
“It is our goal,” he said. “We are being positive about community policing and that is what we will do until we can’t. We will react to the situation as it presents itself but we are welcoming.”
A tweet from the Cleveland Police Department mentioned a man was arrested after trying to steal an officer’s gas mask Sunday evening. Tomba did not directly address the arrest but did say a few officers have them visibly displayed on their uniforms.
“None wear them or have them on,” he said, adding that the officers would continue to rely on their coordination and team approach rather than an authoritative show of force.
As the day unfolded, the themes of the protestors solidified.
“We want to spread peace to show people a friendly peaceful side to Muslims than what people believe,” said Samir Hamid, a business owner from Charlotte North Carolina as he marched with the “Come in Peace” group.
Trump has said the for the use of the controversial term “radical Islamic terrorism” and said in December the U.S. should instated a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Protestors pointed to Trump’s national security proposals, like the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and what some called bigotry and xenophobia as reason to protest his nomination.
Dunyak, a middle aged white man, said he was pleased to see a diverse age group marching with alongside him. He said the perception that only the young and minority march against Trump was odd to him.
“I see many people my age here,” he said with a quick scan of the crowd. “I don’t think that this is an age thing.”