CLEVELAND – Several hundred Donald Trump supporters – a few of them openly carrying guns as allowed under Ohio law – gathered Monday for the first major pro-Trump rally of the four-day Republican National Convention.
The ambush killings of police officers earlier this month in Dallas and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, over the weekend have raised tensions in Cleveland, with the president of the police union asking Ohio Gov. John Kasich to suspend the law allowing gun owners to carry firearms in plain sight. But Kasich said he doesn’t have that authority.
WATCH ABOVE: The Republican National Convention opens Monday, and 50,000 people are expected to flood Cleveland for the big event. The line-up for opening day includes a wide-range of speakers. Weijia Jiang reports.
While there was a large police presence downtown and near the convention site around midday Monday, just a few dozen officers on bikes stood watch before the start of the rally being staged along the Cuyahoga River.
Trump backers who brought guns said they simply wanted to exercise their rights.
“You don’t see Trump supporters doing anything that is extreme,” said Josh Clark, of Erie, Pennsylvania. “It’s more of a peaceful get-together.”
There didn’t appear to be any anti-Trump demonstrators at the rally site.
Joel Ameigh, of Hershey, Pennsylvania, who had a Smith and Wesson handgun strapped to his belt, said he is not necessarily a Trump backer but wanted to hear from the speakers at the “America First” rally sponsored by Citizens for Trump.
“We’re not here to be dangerous people. We’re not here to intimidate anyone. There are laws against that sort of thing,” he said.