The Republican National Convention just got a lot scarier.
The white supremacists involved in a melee in Sacramento over the weekend plan to provide security at next month's convention, promising to protect Donald Trump supporters from “leftist thugs.”
“We’re essentially just going to show up and make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs,” said Matt Parrott, a spokesman for the Traditionalist Worker Party, in an interview with the McClatchy newspaper company's Washington, D.C., bureau.
The Traditionalist Worker Party and another white supremacist group rallied at the California state capitol Sunday, with the stated purpose of protesting violence against Trump supporters, and clashed with antifascist demonstrators who had assembled to counter the rally. At least 10 people were injured, including five who were stabbed, according to media reports. Parrott was not present but blamed the violence on the antifascist protesters.
The party's platform includes calls to "stop discrimination against whites" and "invest in traditional families." "We reject anti-White social engineering projects like forced busing, the 'disparate impact' shakedown racket, and the numerous other ways that our government is stacking the deck against White families," its platform reads. It also supports "net zero immigration" — allowing immigrants in only when U.S. residents leave — and decries U.S. support of Israel, claiming that many American Jews "are more loyal to Israel than they are to America" and alleging that "the organized Jewish community" has a "record of deceit, duplicity, and double-standards in lobbying against American interests." It further opposes abortion and says the definition of marriage should be left to clergy and "local tradition" rather than "activist judges and federal politicians."
The party, which has Parrott as vice chair and Matthew Heimbach as chair, is a relatively new entry in the realm of hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors such groups. Heimbach is “the new face of hate,” SPLC senior writer Rick Lenz told the McClatchy reporter.
Cleveland police have promised to have ample security at the Republican convention, set for July 18-21, and Parrott said his group plans to stay civil. “You’re going to have a relatively civil event where you’re going to have the leftists protesting Trump and you’re going to have us arguing up against the leftists,” he told the McClatchy journalist. “And you’re going to have the police there ensuring that you’re going to have a First World situation and not some sort of ‘Gangs of New York’ knife fight.” The city has designated a protest area that is away from the convention hall.
While radical fringe groups will have a presence in Cleveland, high-profile Republicans may not. A recent Politico investigation found that well-known speakers are shying away from the convention, where the Republican Party is expected to formally nominate Donald Trump as the party’s best hope for reclaiming the White House.
Politico reports that it contacted “more than 50 prominent governors, senators, and House members to gauge their interest in speaking” at the convention. “Only a few said they were open to it, and everyone else said they weren’t planning on it, didn’t want to, or weren’t going to Cleveland at all — or simply didn’t respond.”
Even Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman would not confirm whether he’ll speak at the convention, even though he's from Ohio. Politico notes that Portman is scheduled to attend and host several events in Cleveland throughout the week. It’s worth noting that Portman was the first Republican senator to support marriage equality, after announcing in 2013 that he has a gay son. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who made an unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination, has declined to endorse Trump and wouldn’t tell Politico whether he’ll give a speech in Cleveland next month — in his home state.
Those who've said a definite no to the convention include another former presidential hopeful, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and two U.S. House members from his state, Mark Sanford and Trey Gowdy. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo also say they won't attend — and many others are noncommittal.