The Traditionalist Worker Party, the white supremacy group that made recent headlines over their rally where at least five people were stabbed, are now vowing to show up at the Republican National Convention in order to “protect Trump supporters from leftist thugs.”
The avowal of the white supremacy group to show up to the RNC, which is to be held in Cleveland next month, have many worried over potential violence, as political tensions have seemed to reach a fever-pitch. Thousands of pro-Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters are expected to descend upon the convention at once.
“I think everybody is concerned about the potential for violence at the convention,” said Ryan Lenz, a senior writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremists and hate groups.
The SPLC describes the Traditionalist Worker Party as “the political wing of the Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN), an identitarian-inspired umbrella group that aims to indoctrinate high school and college students into white nationalism.”
Traditionalist Worker Party spokesman Matt Parrott, who blamed “anti-fascists” for the riot, said about 30 members of his group would come to Cleveland in order to protect Trump supporters.
“We’re essentially just going to show up and make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs.”
Parrott said he expected Cleveland police to largely prevent violence through the use of heavy security, although he admitted that “there might be a couple of isolated skirmishes.” In light of the riot that took place this weekend, his words sound ominous to some, even though he predicts that there will be a measure of civility at the conference.
“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. 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.”
Lenz said it was a “wild card” whether violence would erupt. He described the head of the Traditionalist Worker Party, Matthew Heimbach, as an “ascendant leader of the white racist movement,” as well as calling him the “new face of hate.”
A video showing Heimbach shoving a female African-American protester at a Trump rally in March in Kentucky can be seen below.
City of Cleveland spokesman Dan Williams said the city does have a “robust plan” for security during the convention. Whether in support of Trump or in protest of Trump, City of Cleveland Assistant Police Chief Edward Tomba says that as long as everyone behaves in a “lawful manner,” the police will help them make their voices heard. However, if anyone behaves unlawfully, consequences will be swift, he warns.
“Anybody that wants to come to the city and let their voice be heard in a lawful manner, we’re here to assist them. Anybody that goes sideways and is not following the law, there’s going to be consequences…it’s going to be swift and it’s going to be very professional, and I can assure you of that.”
Those who plan to protest Trump, however, are voicing complaints that their “protest parade route,” which is a third of a mile from the actual convention site, was designed in order to keep them from being seen or heard.
Sunday’s riot in Sacramento began when the Traditionalist Worker Party, which is known as a white supremacy group, teamed up with the Golden State Skinheads and reportedly “responded” to protesters, leaving a total of 10 injured.
— Frances Wang (@ABC10Frances) June 26, 2016
It remains unclear whether the protesters, who were dressed in black and had their faces concealed by covering, were affiliated with any organization, but Chris Harvey, a fire department spokesman, described the protesters as “left-wing, anarchist types.”
“It was a very chaotic situation,” he said. “All we could do was just grab, load and go.”
The Traditionalist Worker Party did have a permit to lawfully demonstrate. The group describes their mission as follows.
“Our mission is defending faith, family, and folk against the politicians and oligarchs who are running America into the ground. We intend to achieve that goal by building a nationwide network of grassroots local leaders who will lead Americans toward a peaceful and prosperous future free from economic exploitation, federal tyranny, and anti-Christian degeneracy.”
[Photo by Jeff Swensen/Stringer/Getty Images]