Communist flag

“One, two, three, four, slavery, genocide and war! Five, six, seven, eight, America was never great!”

For several days in a row, the the Revolutionary Communist Party created a media spectacle outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, endlessly screaming its song of hatred against America. The show featured passionate denunciations of the United States, fiery arguments with conservatives and cries to overthrow the government, all of which was lovingly chronicled by a scrum of journalists who outnumbered the protesters.

There was even the burning of an American flag – though the revolutionary gesture descended into farce when the would-be arsonist reportedly lit himself on fire and had to be rescued by law enforcement.

But despite dire predictions of chaos and disorder, the Revolutionary Communist Party and a scattering of other far-left groups were mostly kept in check by a truly massive police presence guarding Donald Trump’s coronation as the Republican presidential nominee.

According to Republican National Committee’s Communications Director Sean Spicer, there were only 33 arrests over the course of the convention.

Protesters also expressed disappointment with the relatively low turnout for anti-Republican demonstrations.

In some ways, Trump, who has made “law and order” the staple of his campaign, may have actually been hoping for more chaos outside the arena.

“Frankly, that impact will probably help the campaign because it’s going to show a lawlessness and lack of respect for political discourse,” Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort said before the convention.

However, the city of Cleveland used a $50 million grant from the federal government to lock down the convention site.

Most protests and demonstrations centered on Public Square, an open area near the Quicken Loans Arena convention site. The media prominently covered the hundreds who gathered at the square day after day, but few were part of a single large grouping. Instead, there were diverse, small groups of people mixed with much larger numbers of curious onlookers, bored conference attendees, and eager journalists hoping for something to happen.

Who is really behind the left? Who funds them? And what do they want? Find out in “Subversion Inc.” by Matthew Vadum, available now in the WND Superstore.

Black Lives Matter protesters, pro-Trump supporters, preachers opposing homosexuality, members of the International Workers of the World and other groups rallied and confronted each other, but disputes were quickly contained. Heavily armed state troopers and highway patrol officers from states all around the country were present, including Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Delaware and California.

The Secret Service and other federal agencies were also present.

Several demonstrators, taking advantage of Ohio’s “open carry” laws, walked around the protest area with rifles, as well as a few with holstered pistols. Though many reporters and independent journalists were eager to take pictures with the gun toting protesters, the police regarded them largely with indifference and no major incidents took place.

There was increasing tension as the convention went on, with both police and protesters preparing for an explosion which never came. A familiar feature of the protest scene was the rush of cameras and journalists to each argument or confrontation which erupted between two people.

However, in most cases, the most violence which occurred was between journalists and bystanders as they aggressively jostled each other trying to get the best shot of what turned out to be a non-event. Members of the left-wing National Lawyers Guild were also ever present, looking for evidence of police misconduct.

There were two major exceptions to the largely peaceful state of affairs. On Tuesday, Alex Jones brought a microphone to the square and denounced left wing protesters as “globalists” and “scum” who were being used by George Soros to further a nefarious agenda. Leftists wearing the shirts of the International Workers of the World attacked Jones, who had to be rescued by police officers and hustled away.

Members of the group rallied later in the week under the black and red flags of “antifascism” but police swarmed the poorly attended protest, preventing any confrontations or outbreaks of violence.

On Wednesday, Gregory Lee “Joey” Johnson of the Revolutionary Communist Party burned an American flag. However, one of the communists reportedly caught fire, leading police to storm in to secure public safety.

One officer shouted, “You’re on fire, stupid!”

Eighteen people were arrested in the incident.

Undaunted, the Revolutionary Communist Party returned on the closing day of the convention, with its characteristic anti-Trump and anti-American chant. Leading the protest was Carl Dix, the national spokesperson for the organization and a staple at protests around the country.

Dix told the assembled spectators, mostly reporters, that Americans need to forego their national identity and think of themselves only as part of humanity. The group also distributed promotional material, including plans for its supposed “Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.”

Another speaker was Johnson himself, who previously burned the flag at a demonstration outside the Republican National Convention in 1984. His actions eventually led to the Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson, which ruled flag burning is protected speech under the First Amendment.

He told the crowd he had repeated his flag desecration because America’s entire history was characterized by genocide, racism and slavery. Though there were some angry rebuttals from the crowd, both demonstrators and counter-demonstrators were outnumbered by amateur or professional reporters recording the speech and present only as spectators.

The Revolutionary Communist Party has been active for many years and is a frequent organizer of mass demonstrations which play host to other organizations and figures, including current CNN pundit Van Jones. However, it is also a controversial group among leftists because of what critics call a “cult of personality” built around its leader, Bob Avakian. The group in Cleveland dressed in identical shirts proclaiming “BA Speaks,” a reference to Avakian which presumably went over the heads of most people in the park.

The group was repeatedly taunted by a conservative with a megaphone who identified himself as “Gary the Numbers Guy,” a frequent caller to talk shows such as The Savage Nation with Michael Savage. He told WND he felt like somebody had to oppose the open support for communism.

“There’s no incentive to better yourself in communism,” he said. “There’s no incentive to make your family better in communism. What that causes is a society that stagnates because there’s no new ideas. And when a society stagnates, it eventually crumbles, which is exactly what is happening in Venezuela right now.”

The Revolutionary Communist Party was one of the most consistent elements of the protests but other groups used a more free-floating, deliberately chaotic approach. Masked protesters occasionally tried to lead police on a chase through the streets in an attempt to break through the security cordons and cause chaos. There were also reports on the final day of the conference that some officers complained of numbness and skin irritation after unidentified persons put yellow stickers on them.

Protesters also achieved a victory when Code Pink repeatedly interrupted the Republican convention itself, including when the group’s founder Medea Benjamin was able to briefly halt Trump’s speech. However, Trump was able to spin the moment to his advantage by praising law enforcement officers in Cleveland as Benjamin was detained.

It was a fitting capstone to a convention which had the national media braced for violence and chaos. But in the end, it only came down to a few photo ops. And while self-defined anti-nationalist protesters railed outside, a man who once described himself as a nationalist completed his takeover of the Republican Party.

Who is really behind the left? Who funds them? And what do they want? Find out in “Subversion Inc.” by Matthew Vadum, available now in the WND Superstore.

 

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.