RNC Visitors Camp Out at Local Park
By Elizabeth Miller
Several out-of-town visitors slept under the stars this week at the city’s Kirtland Park, the only public space designated for overnight stays during the Republican National Convention.
About a dozen tents sit in the center of Kirtland Park at East 49th and Marginal Rd. Handmade posters line the edge of a cement stage and T-shirts bearing the likeness of Donald Trump hang in trees. And at the edge of the park, a small play area is covered with a banner reading “Occupation of the RNC”. Kirtland Park isn’t exactly in the bustling part of town and visitors including Sean Maupin of Denver, Colorado, say that’s why the city chose this location.
"They put us in a bad neighborhood 3 miles away from everything. They did the best they could to make it where we couldn’t protest effectively," said Maupin. "Bravo, you guys did that well."
Maupin says the convention has been a huge disappointment for him. He arrived in Cleveland to support protesters, spending $1200 on supplies.
"Tents, food, patches, medical supplies, information, goody bags," said Maupin. "Everything we could. It’s almost gone to waste just because people were too afraid."
He says protesters changed their minds about demonstrating at the convention because of the heavy police presence.
A police presence that Steven Sweetleaf and Anaheim James came all the way from California to document. Sweetleaf says that’s why they chose to stay at Kirtland, too. "We want to be at the park because we want to have our cameras ready," said explained Sweetleaf. "Often times in these parks people get raided or people get harassed and their rights are infringed upon by law enforcement officers. We want to be there in order to protect."
The two work for InLeague Press, an organization that livestreams encounters with police. They say everything has been peaceful at the convention and the campsite so far. Police warned them about a storm on Monday, and the city is providing clean water 24/7.
Others staying at the park include people involved in the Occupy movement. Tom Moore of Massachusetts arrived in Cleveland on Sunday to support several causes, from environmental issues to Black Lives Matter. "At times there have been 30 or 40 folks around, people supporting the whole range of candidates with a really wide range of views," said Moore.
But while there are Port-a-Potties and ample space to rest your head, there’s one thing visitors say they would love to have – electricity.