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CLEVELAND — The gathering to nominate one of the most polarizing presidential candidates in history, Donald Trump, inspired little in the way of protests on its first day.

The Rally to Stop Trump and March on the Republican National Convention? Organizers said “thousands” would attend. Hundreds was more like it.

The pro-Trump demonstration headlined by right-wing radio star Alex Jones? It attracted a good turnout maybe for mid-sized company’s picnic, but not really a national movement.

Protests are expected to continue — and perhaps grow — as the week progresses and thousands more descend on this Midwestern city for the quad-rennial Republican festivities. But the opening few hours were just plain Cleveland calm.


“The convention is just starting,” said Gloria Rubac, who drove 24 hours from Houston to march in opposition to the Republican standard-bearer. She marveled at the number of journalists reporting on the story. “I don’t think I’ve ever been to a protest this well covered,” she said.

Mayor Frank Jackson along with the city’s police chief, Calvin Williams, projected confidence at a news conference Monday morning, saying they’re prepared to protect large gatherings and ease tense standoffs between groups with conflicting views.

“We want to be sure that the protesters are safe walking through the streets of Cleveland,” said Williams. “And we want to be sure we have enough officers to respond if things turn otherwise.”

He said that the police are constantly communicating with “who we perceive to be the leaders” of the various groups organizing protests in the city.

These political demonstrations are occurring amid rising tensions nationally between police and the people who they protect, particularly in minority communities. Over the weekend three police officers were shot to death in Baton Rouge, La. That followed an attack in Dallas in which a gunman killed five officers.


Those killings happened after two black men were shot to death by police officers in Baton Rouge and near St. Paul, Minn. Parts of their interactions with police were recorded and widely distributed online.

Some evidence of the brewing tension was clear in Cleveland. “Film the police” was scrawled in black lettering on a white Jersey barrier just outside the Quicken Loans Arena, where the Republican convention is being held.

In the park where the main anti-Trump rally started on Monday, uniformed police stayed far from protesters.

After listening to speeches for about an hour, the group marched through the city streets — chanting “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA” — toward the convention center. Uniformed police rode bikes or walked their bikes along the perimeter of the parade route.

A number of groups sent observers, evidence that there was — and still is — some expectation that there could be more trouble. They included a group of about 50 self-described “marshals,” activists who came specifically to observe the police; a dozen volunteers from Amnesty International, and about a dozen members of a “Peace Team.”

“We’re here to listen and resolve any kind of conflict,” said Peace Team member Bonnie DiGennaro. “Everything has been going along quite smoothly,” she reported.

The crowd seemed to include at least one member of each group that Trump has offended in his year-long quest to the Republican nomination. “He’s making Muslims seem like monsters,” said Sondos Mishal, a 17-year old Muslim student who came to protest Trump. “You get these looks now and different treatment, as if you don’t belong here.”


A feminist group carried a paper mache Trump sculpture. Black Lives Matters activists held fists in the air and demanded criminal justice reform.

Still, the crowd was notably thin — particularly when compared to last month’s outpouring for the city’s victorious basketball team.

“This is a lot different from the other rally,” mused Giana Parsens, a 17-year-old Cleveland resident as she looked at scores of anti-Trump activists.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers won the National Basketball Association championship in June she arrived at the same park at 6 a.m. “It was just people all the way. I just couldn’t walk,” she said gesturing to an empty field across the street from the protest area.

At a pro-Trump event in the early afternoon, dozens more listened to speakers denounce Hillary Clinton. Among the speakers at the rally was Alex Jones, the conspiracy-minded media personality, who drew loud cheers from the crowd.

He railed against “the globalists,” saying loudly that they are “the enemy.”

Jones lauded Trump for his “amazing courage” but said people shouldn’t put their faith in any one individual.

Tom Cody, a Trump supporter who lives just outside of Cleveland said he backs the presumptive GOP nominee “for change.”

Cody, who works for the local port authority, said Trump is “not part of the inner circle and he’s not a career politician.”

Asked whether he was worried about violence at protests this week, as several people openly carrying handguns in hip holsters walked by, Cody shook his head.


“Nah,” he said. “I think it’ll be quiet.”

Annie Linskey can be reached at annie.linskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @annielinskey. Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.