CLEVELAND ― The man used a bullhorn to goad the protesters who’d swarmed around him on Monday afternoon.
“Homosexuals! Ho-mo-sexuals!” he bellowed from a ledge in a park by the convention center here. “We have homos! Homos leading the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Before the situation could get any uglier, a line of police walked their bikes single-file between Bullhorn Guy and his antagonists. The officers then held their $2,000 bikes, effectively creating a fence between the two sides, and waited patiently for the groups to quit shouting at each other. It didn’t take long.
“The bikes are used with these protest groups and it helps separate the protest groups so that everyone’s voice can be heard,” Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy told the Wall Street Journal this week. The Secret Service is overseeing security at both nominating conventions this month, starting with the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
The Huffington Post observed police form a bike barrier between pro- and anti-Trump protesters three times in different locations around downtown Cleveland on Monday, the first day of the convention. The tactic has proven effective in the past, including at the Republican convention in Tampa four years ago. It’s a nice reprieve from the high-profile police-related hostility that has consumed the nation for the past few weeks.
Dozens of reporters hovered around every confrontation, waiting to see if there would be violence like there’s been at several Trump rallies earlier this year. But every time Trump haters faced off with Trump fans, a phalanx of bike-mounted cops would come rolling in to defuse the situation.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said Monday evening that there had been two peaceful anti-Trump protests with roughly 500 people altogether and only one arrest, of a woman on a felony warrant. Williams said there was only a small amount of beef.
“There were a couple times where we brought in our bicycle officers to split people from some of that confrontation,” Williams said. “We just wanted to make sure we got in there before anything got out of hand.”