A Lens on the GOP Convention: Dispatches From Day 1 (Photos)

A plane drags an anti-Hillary Clinton banner over the GOP convention. (Michael Nigro)

CLEVELAND—What happens outside Quicken Loans Arena during the 2016 Republican National Convention may be more interesting than what happens inside the star-spangled halls.

Photojournalist Michael Nigro is in Cleveland to provide Truthdig with a view of noteworthy moments from around the convention centers, where protesters and activists have gathered to express their views.

Nigro has more than 20 years of experience as an award-winning filmmaker and is an Emmy-nominated writer-director, a social activist and a proponent of citizen journalism. See examples of his work here and here.

His style is to shoot from within the hive, rather than observing from a distance, and Nigro will provide Truthdig viewers and readers with an on-the-ground perspective from Cleveland. He also is in contact with groups planning actions at the GOP convention and will have the advantage of embedding himself with a number of them.

Tune in to Truthdig daily this week to see Nigro’s dispatches.

This is Day 1.

While opposition and chaos erupted on the floor during the opening day of the Republican National Convention, outside the star-spangled GOP arena, mild protests and actions, both anti- and pro-Trump, were set to a mere simmer, as little of the anticipated street unrest materialized.

Despite a last-ditch effort by the #NeverTrump contingent to prevent a Donald Trump nomination, pro-Trump supporters assured his presidential bid by denying a roll-call vote, which would have unbound GOP delegates.

Outside? Few activists or protesters knew any such drama was unfolding. Many were simply protesting peacefully and trying to figure out how to weave through the roughly $50 million worth of security apparatus around them.

Over 3 miles of 8-foot steel fencing and concrete barricades have turned the 1.7-mile convention footprint into a labyrinthine landscape, making it difficult to negotiate one’s way to certain areas. The streets themselves are clotted with law enforcement of all stripes, from local police, officers from other states, sheriffs, Homeland Security, the Secret Service and the U.S. military.

In the calm before the convention, Secret Service agents scan quiet streets from the rooftop of the convention center. (Michael Nigro)

The iconic Hard Rock Cafe neon logo behind omnipresent steel fencing. (Michael Nigro)

Bikers For Trump, a coterie of roughly 1,000 people attending the convention, are assembling in small contingents across the city “to back the police up whenever needed.” (Michael Nigro)

Guitarist and activist Tom Morello took the stage with his new band, Prophets of Rage, during the “End Poverty NOW!” rally. His band mates, consisting of Public Enemy’s Chuck D and B Real of Cypress Hill, revved up the crowd of nearly 2,000 to march 30 blocks toward the convention area before they were stopped by police on foot, bikes and horses. “We’re gonna let those motherfuckers at the RNC know that we’ve had enough of their bullshit!” said Morello. (Michael Nigro)

A Trump supporter cheers after the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Michael Nigro)

A protester at the “End Poverty NOW!” rally. (Michael Nigro)

The Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a news conference across the street from the convention, calling out Trump’s Islamophobia. Their swag is a pack of sugar-free gum that cheekily claims to offer “Relief for Chronic Islamophobia.” (Michael Nigro)

Cleveland police are ready for protesters, activists and off-road mountain biking. (Michael Nigro)

Hillary Clinton is not Ms. Popular with many of the GOP conventiongoers. (Michael Nigro)

Looking for progressive intellectualism? The 2016 GOP convention is not the place to find it. (Michael Nigro)

Cleveland police officers begin their first shift of the convention in Public Square. (Michael Nigro)

Remember to pack your sense of humor. The distance between Charleston, S.C., and Cleveland is 725 miles, or a 10-hour, 54-minute drive. (Michael Nigro)

American performance artist and activist Vermin Love Supreme. He is making another presidential run. (Michael Nigro)

Nearly 2,000 people took part in the “March to End Poverty NOW!” (Michael Nigro)

Truthdig is live blogging about the convention all week. Tune in for news, analysis and commentary.

Michael Nigro
Michael Nigro is an award-winning filmmaker, Emmy nominated writer-director and social justice activist based in Brooklyn, New York. His work as a photojournalist began during Occupy Wall Street and later he…
Michael Nigro

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