Thursday was the demonstration march that SCPD participated in. The main organizer was a group called STAT (Stand Together Against Trump). They are physicians and nurses who were so appalled by Trump’s bigotry, particularly against Muslims, that they felt compelled to do something. SCPD, along with several other groups such as Healthcare Ohio, partnered with them in the march. There were a dozen of us from SCPD.
The size of the demonstration was somewhere between 300 and 500, depending on whom you asked. I think we all felt extremely safe. The parade route was lined with police and there weren’t even any hecklers. At the start of the route a small group of religious extremists had set up a little spot with a bullhorn, but it looked they were there every day and didn’t aim their provocative remarks at our group, they just wanted to spew their venom.
The city of Cleveland set up the route in a way to avoid coming close to the convention arena, and in fact the only people who actually saw or heard us were the police and the media. And there was plenty of media, they lined the route taking videos and photos. The temp was about 90 degrees but there was a breeze and so it didn’t feel as bad as I thought it would.
After the march various of us were interviewed by the New York Times, WKSU and Channel 19 WOIO Cleveland. The question they all asked was if we were disappointed that our group of marchers wasn’t larger. They were clearly looking for more spectacle. I think most of us felt like the size of the demonstration was plenty large enough—the main purpose was to get media attention and show the world that many of us oppose Trump, and that happened. With all the reporters there, we were able to find a video with lots of our SCPD members interspersed in the group.
And here’s yet more video, this time of a reporter from New China TV, asking SCPD spokespersons for their reaction: Look for Ingrid Kunstel at :27 and Bob Gippin at :49.
So what did we accomplish? One, we got our progressive message out to the public way beyond what we expected. We spoke with over 70 media outlets and were able to make our key points. Two, we got some publicity for SCPD. We were often able to work into our interviews that we are part of SCPD and explain what it is. The article on Day 1 in the Beacon-Journal was exactly what we were looking for—conveyed our message and gave SCPD visibility. Three, one we didn’t consider ahead of time, we got a message out to other countries that what they saw and heard in the speeches inside the convention does not represent all Americans. There are plenty of us who are appalled by Trump and America is not crazy. If you think about what the convention looked like to a journalist or viewer from another country with their own cultural frame of reference, you can see how this might be pretty important.
Special thanks to all the SCPD volunteer drivers. These folks made a two-hour round trip each day to either drop off or pick up our speakers and demonstrators. They were always on-time. We couldn’t have done any of this without them and Jean Mankemyer who organized them.
1. The police on bikes seemed to be a very effective tactic. They were always in a large group of maybe 30-50. They were able to deploy quickly whenever anything looked threatening, and by doing so they calmed the situation. And the way they could line their bikes up end-to-end and stand with them they constructed a pretty strong barrier to keep people away from any scene that might get out of hand.
2. I had an interesting discussion with a NY Times reporter during one interview. She asked whether the violence that had preceded the convention had the effect of chilling free speech by preventing more people from coming out to the march. We pondered that because usually we think of the govt. as being the force that constrains free speech, but now it is the extremists who can also constrain free speech. It causes us to censor ourselves. Interesting thing to consider.
3. The technology that reporters now have available is impressive. No more hauling around a wagon with video equipment on it. They can record on a cell phone or a shoulder-mounted camera. They can live stream to a radio station or a Facebook page with a smart phone.
3. Several SCPD members gave a lot for us. Bob Gippin was present and very active every day and represented SCPD strongly to the media—just what you’d want from a president. Joanne Dolinar and Ralph Hunt, who served on our Messaging Committee were also there every day talking to the media and also steering them to our issues speakers. And every one of our issues experts was terrific—Tom Schmida, Rob Grow, Steve Cochran, Sondos Mishal and Brian Davis. These people stood in a hot sun for hours spreading our message to the media.
Today we had interviews with 30 media outlets. There were bigger crowds and more energy in Public Square, but still it was calm and very manageable. Also today we interviewed with more non-traditional media—web-page sites, YouTube channels, web radio stations, etc.. Our representatives today included Brian Davis an advocate for the homeless and their voting rights, Steve Cochran talking about environment and politics, Rob Grow on gun violence, and then on general progressive views it was Dick Bardoulas, Bob Gippin, Joanne Dolinar, Ingrid Kunstel and Frank Kunstel.
Having had two nights of convention speeches, the media had more specific things to ask us today—our reactions to what has been said in the convention, the tone of the speeches. etc.. But sill lots of questions on why we think Trump is bad for America.
A sample of the 30 media outlets includes Politico, Rolling Stone ,Ft. Wayne Indiana TV, St. Louis ABC TV channel 5, Philadelphia TV WTXF, News Corp Australia, Times of Israel, South African TV, Progressive Daily.com, and Argentina TV.
1. There were more people in character dress today—a pink Tinkerbelle-like fairy, a Supreme Court justice with a sign “GInsberg Was Right”, a ventriloquist with a dummy and a sign that said “Even Dummies Don’t Vote for Trump,” and more.
2. The Rolling Stone interviewer did really in-depth interviews with Steve on the environment, Brian on the homeless, and Frank on opposition to Trump. He was one of the few that spent the time to go in-depth on each subject.
3. Bob Gippin was interviewed by the German radio station (broadcasting live n English) Deutsche Welle. The interviewer came back to interview him because he was “articulate” and the reporter had been having a hard time finding someone like that.
4. As was true all three days, many people stopped to photograph our signs and to thank us for what we are doing—literally dozens and dozens of people
It was another very productive day in getting our progressive message out to the world. Sondos Mishal, our Muslim student, decided to come along for a second day. Tom Schmida was there to discuss education in Ohio. Bob Gippin, Ingrid Kunstel, Joanne Dolinar and Frank Kunstel all were there, holding anti-Trump signs. Media interviewed one or more of us in each interview. Today we were hanging out right in Public Square—standing in very sunny weather and 85 degrees, but we managed to get through about 4 hours of interviews.
We interviewed with a total of 30 media outlets today. A sample of these is: Arizona PBS, KFI TV Los Angeles, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Indiana University student newspaper, Thai TV, Finland Radio, CBC Canada, Voice of America Nigeria, TV Tokyo, and CNN India. As was true yesterday, they weren’t much focused on our specific topics, rather wanted to ask each of us why we were against Trump, what we hoped to accomplish, what we thought of Melania’s speech last night. The exception again was Sondos—they were very interested in her experiences as a Muslim young person. And again she did a superb job of quietly explaining her concerns, the climate of fear she has to live in, the anxieties of her family. And again in the course of responding to the journalists’ questions, we often were able to get in some words about SCPD and (today with Tom Schmida) about education in Ohio.
Although our primary mission is to get progressive views out to the American public, it seems that we are also able to have some small influence on how the rest of the world views us. We get to show that despite what foreign nations may see on TV of the Republican convention speeches, there are many sane Americans who do not subscribe to the Republican notions about race, the economy, war and foreign relations—Donald Trump is not representative of the American people. Although the foreign journalists have to remain objective and unbiased, it often is easy to see they agree with us when we talk about the dangers of Trump. (Not all of them agree with us, a guy from Russia TV was very adversarial about Hillary Clinton having screwed up in Libya and contributed to ISIS.)
1. Bob Gippin got to use his French (he is fluent) in an interview with a French journalist.
2. One journalist wanted a 10-second interview with Ingrid Kunstel on whether she is a feminist or not.
3. Frank Kunstel got to explain to a Japanese journalist what “dog whistle” politics means and she asked me to write it down for her.
Today was a huge success but in a very unexpected way. We had three speakers who were ready to tell their story to the media we had invited to the law offices of Michael Wager. We were early and so Sondos Mishal, Rob Grow, Bob Gippin, Frank and I walked around Public Square and then headed over to the Mall. There were probably 300 or more people there and tons of media. We had two signs that were anti-Trump and suddenly the media was coming up to us. I went up to the building where our interviews were to be held but no one showed up so we focused our time on the Mall.
Sondos was wearing a hijab and is cute as a button. Her story is compelling and the press was eating it up. The reporters were eager to hear about her experience as a young Muslim woman. They also were very interested in Rob Grow’s story about his work with anti-gun violence. Bob Gippin spoke to some of the reporters about what SCPD is doing but the other two were the stars of the day. Both were extremely knowledgeable and articulate. There were also many photo ops of us with our signs.
We were interviewed by China TV, an Italian newspaper, Sky TV, Middle East, Boston Globe, Tampa Bay Tribune, Buffalo newspaper, BBC London, Tucson Weekly, USA Today, China magazine, NPR, Chilean TV, HBO (with STAT on Sunday), Voice of America France, Reading, PA Eagle newspaper, Paris radio station and the Beacon Journal. Not bad for a first day!
Our plan for tomorrow is to have more signs for Joanne, Ralph, Bob, Tom Schmida, Frank and me. We will have one person stay at the scheduled offices to see if the media shows up but the rest of us will be down at the Mall or on Public Square trolling for media interviews.
It should be noted that everything was peaceful and orderly. There was no concern about violence. The police presence was significant but friendly. Not to worry.
Here is the update on the protest march for SCPDers in Cleveland. The event will take place on Thursday, July 21. We will gather 1:30 pm in Ohio City, right across from the West Side market at West 18th and Lorrain. We have joined a group called Stand Together Against Trump, so look for their banner. We will march to Public Square, about a mile and a half
There will be a rally sponsored by Stand Together Against Trump at 6 pm in Public Square for those who choose to attend. The idea is to get on the tv cameras with signs against Trump before he begins his acceptance speech, and then be on a split screen with him during his acceptance speech.
Demonstrators wishing for a place to rest before the rally begins at 6PM may head to the convergence center at 2831 Franklin Blvd. (this is in Ohio City a few blocks from West Side Market. Use your GPS).We will reconvene at Public Square at 6PM, gathering for our rally which will take place during Donald Trump’s acceptance speech.