America could be in store for a summer of violence in 2016 thanks to Donald Trump. Some of the events of the election, such as the Republican Convention scheduled for July 18 to 21 at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, could be marred by a level of conflict not seen since 1968.
The city of Cleveland is planning to mobilize 5,000 law enforcement officers and purchase 2,000 sets of riot gear for the convention, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on March 3. The city has received $50 million in federal grants that it plans to spend on everything from horse trailers to six-foot-high steel barriers.
Those preparations indicate that the city is expecting big trouble at the convention. The events of Friday, March 11, show that those expectations are realistic. Trump was forced to cancel a planned rally in Chicago after 2,500 protesters turned out to disrupt the event.
After the gathering was cancelled, angry Trump supporters attacked protesters, leading to a melee in which police officers were injured. Police had to intervene to keep protesters from attacking Trump supporters and vice versa. Widely circulated news photographs showed an officer covered with blood after the brawl.
Cleveland Could Burn This Summer
Since Cleveland is a city much like Chicago, with a population that is 53.3% African American, such violence is likely if Trump wins the nomination. There is a large, rowdy, and well-organized protest movement in the city, and large numbers of outside troublemakers are also likely to show up.
To throw gasoline on the fire, large numbers of Trump supporters will presumably show up to support their man. Since some of those supporters seem to be spoiling for a fight, it is not hard to imagine violence.
A particularly frightening scenario is that many of Trump’s supporters could be armed. Trump has metal detectors at his campaign events for good reason. Could there be shootouts between police and Trump supporters? Since there will presumably be police and members of the military with assault rifles on hand to deal with terrorists, the possibility of automatic weapons being used on a crowd is all too likely.
It is easy to see why a city that has a police force of around 1,200 officers is planning to bring in an additional 3,800 officers for the convention. One has to wonder if that will be enough or will Governor Kasich, himself a minor GOP contender, be forced to call out the National Guard to protect the convention? Will President Obama be forced to deploy the regular Army and possibly the Delta Force?
If protesters and Trump backers cannot reach the convention hall, they’re likely to take the fight to the streets. Protesters or Trump supporters are likely to start smashing, burning, and even looting if they cannot reach the convention hall.
What If Trump Loses the Nomination?
An even worse scenario could occur if Trump loses the nomination, which is more likely than the Donald fans in the media would like to admit. All it would take for Trump’s main rival, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), to win by a substantial majority would be for the last two moderate candidates to drop out.
At last count (before the contests on March 15, 2016), Trump had 460 of the delegates needed to win the nomination, but Cruz had 370. Were the other two contenders, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who has 163 delegates, and Kasich, who has 63 delegates, to drop out and throw their support to Cruz, the Texas Senator would have a comfortable majority of 596 delegates out of the 1,237 needed to win the nomination.
Cruz is also likely to do well because many of the remaining GOP contests are in Western states that favor him. When Wyoming Republicans went to the polls on March 12, the day after the Chicago brawl, Cruz won 66.3% of the vote and Rubio received 19.5%; Trump only got 7.2%.
Such a scenario is very likely, especially with allegations of racism and campaign trail violence making Trump look increasingly bad. Ted Cruz now looks like a palatable alternative rather than a dangerous radical. During caucus and primary contests on March 12, Rubio received 11 delegates, Cruz won 10, Kasich received nine, and Trump captured one.
The violence at the rallies is likely to drive many Republicans, including law and order types, women and cultural conservatives, away from Trump. He’s likely to go from front runner to unelectable pariah. Even many Trump sympathizers like Pat Buchanan are likely to dump Donald in the coming weeks if this keeps up.
Will Trump’s Followers Riot?
Unfortunately, a Trump defeat at the polls could actually make violence more likely. What happens if angry Trump supporters march on the Quicken Loans Arena with hopes of punishing the party elite for sabotaging their hero’s election efforts and some of them bring their guns? The situation could be made worse if there is some sort of convention fight and lots of protesters show up to help Donald.
The situation is likely to lead to violent altercations worse than those at the infamous Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968, particularly if fighting between protesters or Trump supporters and police breaks out as occurred in 1968. All it would take is for one Trump backer to call an African-American cop the N-word to trigger a police riot.
One just hopes that Donald will gracefully quit and convince his supporters to do the same. If that does not happen, 2016 will be remembered as the Summer of Violence on the campaign trail. Hopefully, authorities in Cleveland and possibly Washington, DC, have a strategy for preventing the violence from spiraling out of control.
It looks as if Summer 2016 could be the time when the class, political, racial and political tensions in America come to a flash point thanks to Donald Trump. One has to wonder if billionaire Donald will be willing to pay for the damage he has done after the smoke clears.