The Republican National Convention was held in Cleveland this year and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get downtown and photograph the experience. It started for me the Sunday night before the big event was do to start. I knew Cleveland would be all lit up and this would be a fantastic chance to capture some night images of the city looking her best.
My plan was to set off from my kayak from Wendy Park and head over to the North Coast Harbor and capture all the views in between. This should give me a unique perspective that I haven't seen before. I was thrown a curve ball from the start...it was very difficult getting into the city due to all the road closures, which I expected, but I did not anticipate highway 2 also being closed. I eventually made it to Whisky Island via Tremont and Ohio City just after sunset. I was hoping to be on the water before dark to get some dusk shots, but oh well, my primary purpose is the after dark stuff. Things went pretty good at first, the water was calm and the paddling was easy. I was able to capture a few pictures, but realized quickly that I had mistakenly packed the wrong lens! I had meant to bring the Olympus 12-40 f2.8 and Panasonic 25 f1.7, well, I had the 12-40, but accidentally threw the slow Pany 12-60, so getting a sharp photo at night, while floating in a kayak was going to be very difficult!
I did manage to get a couple photos, but over all, things didn’t work out well. I also had a run-in with the coast guard as they were not comfortable with how close I was to the restricted water zone. I didn’t argue with them and decided it was a good time to head to shore anyway. On the way out of town, I stopped by one of the new Cleveland script signs in Tremont and took some pictures, probably the best of the night.
The next morning I headed back to the city for a full day. To make travel easy, I parked down in the Flats East Bank and used my bike to get around. I immediately found a rally of bikers and other Trump supporters at Settlers Park. These folks spoke a lot about guns, religion and their disdain for Clinton and for some reason, John McCain. There were plenty of colorful characters and a picturesque backdrop of the Cuyahoga to photograph at this location.
From here I headed up the hill to Public Square and the Mall were Anti-Trump protesters were preparing to march. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
The next day I went straight to Public Square where it was almost festival like with food trucks, dancers in the lawn, and kids playing in the fountain.
There were certainly protesters, but I didn’t witness any altercations and for the most part a very peaceful vibe.
Next, I headed over to 4th street where it was packed with media, delegates, and vendors.
This is the area right outside the gate were many of the delegates come in and out of and it’s also an area saturated with law enforcement. I saw state troopers from at least 6 or 7 different states, Cleveland and Akron Bike Patrol, mounted police, and Secret Service. There presence was all over, but never forceful, unless there was a reason, and very friendly in my interactions. At one point, I found myself surrounded by Cleveland Bike Patrol as they were posing for some post card worthy photos, themselves.
I am very proud of Cleveland for showing the world how a large political event can be held with no major situations. The people who gathered and law enforcement were exceptional. People’s voices were heard and nobody got hurt.
Nice job CLE!
Here are a few more photos from the week.