Officers pose for photos with Cleveland residents George Fossett and saxophonist Brittany Atterberry outside the Quicken Loans Arena on the last day of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
CLEVELAND — Brittany Atterberry was walking down East Fourth Street in her hometown when she encountered a visiting Trump supporter on his guitar. So she unsheathed her soprano sax, fixed a microphone on its bell, and jumped into the blues with him. Then Atterberry’s brother George Fossett, who was holding an END RACISM sign, started dancing with a bare-chested Biker for Trump.
It was a tableau of can’t-we-all-just-get-along, mere blocks from the site of the fractious Republican National Convention, where each night politicians have done their best to make Americans afraid of each other.
Said the guitarist, Kraig Moss, 57, of his fellow musician: “The Lord sent her right down here.”
Said Atterberry, 25, a professional saxophonist who describes herself as anti-war: “Music is something that you feel. You can’t overthink it, like with voting.”
Said Daryl Rembowski, the Biker for Trump: “The silent majority is showing you we can [get along]. We’ve seen it all week.”
Said Fossett, his dance partner and fellow Cleveland resident: “Stop all the white against black, black against white. It’s all about love. This is what Cleveland is about. This is what the world should be about.”
What happened to the tear gas? The cars on fire? The cops digging their knees into people’s necks? Wasn’t Cleveland supposed to explode right alongside the GOP and its volatile nominee?
Instead this week, Cleveland trolleys feature a digital readout that says “SMILE AND RIDE FREE.” Instead, conventioneers have been taking photos with the cops they run into from their own hometowns. Instead, activists are giving out free burritos, and professional cuddlers are giving free hugs.
“We just keeping hearing ‘you’re a breath of fresh air,'” said Brigid Hopkins of the groups Love on Legs and Cleveland Cuddlers, which is exactly what it sounds like. She wore a pink T-shirt that says FREE HUGS in the crowded pedestrian corridor of East Fourth Street, where conservatives and progressives are forced into intimate proximity. “Excuse me,” said a shaggy drug-policy activist to a manicured woman in sequined cowboy boots who responds, “You’re fine, honey.”