Elections

East 4th Street a platform for protest at GOP convention

Mariam Noujaim, 62, who is from Egypt but currently living in California, left, tries to make a point about immigration with Desiree Hoy, of Detroit, Mich., on East 4th Street in Cleveland, on Wednesday. Hoy’s shirt bears a Muslim greeting written in Arabic, “Peace Be Upon You.”
Mariam Noujaim, 62, who is from Egypt but currently living in California, left, tries to make a point about immigration with Desiree Hoy, of Detroit, Mich., on East 4th Street in Cleveland, on Wednesday. Hoy’s shirt bears a Muslim greeting written in Arabic, “Peace Be Upon You.” Special to the Centre Daily Times

Silently, Desiree Hoy made her statement by holding up a sign that asked a rather straightforward question –– “Is Trump Racist?”

Hoy, of Detroit, wasn’t interested in answering questions, not even the one she posed. She knew where she stood on the matter. And her question wasn’t rhetorical. She actually wanted to listen to what others had to say on the issue.

For the few questions she did answer, her responses were broad and brief. She called herself a millennial when asked for her age.

“It’s important for me to spread peace,” said Hoy.

Hoy remained mute as she stood amid the various characters of the bustling East 4th Street, many of whom were brought together by the political stage of the Republican National Convention. Her longing for peace was the lone agenda that she explicitly stated.

Because it is located just a few blocks from the Quicken Loans Arena, where much of the convention is taking place, East 4th Street creates a serviceable platform for these characters to make their voices heard.

Mariam Noujaim, 62, played the role of Hoy’s fiery antithesis as she shouted the reasons why she supported Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Most of those reasons regarded immigration reform, which Trump has made one of his most adamant rallying cries.

Originally from Egypt, Noujaim used her own experiences as a legal immigrant to explain why Trump’s campaign resonates with her.

“Illegals cut to the front of the line,” she said, talking about the process of becoming an American citizen. “They need to get to the back of the line and do it the right way.”

In jester-like fashion, two flamboyant young men provided much of the performance’s comic relief, relying on their outlandish appearances to deliver a biting satire.

One of the two men dressed in drag. With his mouth coated with red lipstick, he strongly resembled Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker in the Dark Knight. The second man wore a diaper, pretending to be the other man’s baby.

As the two made their way down the street, they asked many nearby Republicans to “kick the baby.”

When their demands were rejected, they bitterly fired back, “If Mike Pence kicks babies, why don’t you?”

The kicking babies reference, they said, was the result of Pence’s strong opposition to abortion rights.

When a reporter asked for their names, they didn’t break character. Instead, they simply responded, “mom” and “baby.”

Not far away stood Loren Spivack, 50, who has written three books, all of which criticize three major Democratic politicians. He was selling them for $20 on the street.

He wrote his first book about President Barack Obama in the style of Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.” He claimed he’s sold 25,000 copies of the book since its publication in 2012.

His second book models “The Lorax” and is an indictment of Al Gore and other environmentalists. The third one tells the story of Bill and Hillary Clinton tied to the plot of “The Wizard of Oz.”

“Environmentalists are destroying America for profit,” said Spivack.

Nicknamed the “Free Market Warrior,” Spivack said his books aren’t subject to copyright infringement because they’re parodies.

Matt Martell is a Penn State University journalism student covering the Republican National Convention for the Centre Daily Times.

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