CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - More than 50,000 visitors are expected in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention next week. Before that convention, it's the National Convention of the Oppressed.
The convention is scheduled to take place through Sunday, July 17. It will be hosted by Black Lawyers for Justice and its leader, national president Malik Z. Shabazz Esq. Shabazz, who is a nationally known litigator and a long-time activist.
"The convention of the oppressed is a counter-convention to the RNC convention, it's a counter to this toxic of Mr. Trump and we want to bring the message of the oppressed, the blacks, the browns and my Indian brothers and sisters," said Shabazz.
Shabazz says the presumptive Republican nominee is a lunatic.
"Anybody in America who supports him has lost their mind as well," he said. "We have to put a stop to this."
The coalition represents several movements, including Black Lives Matter, the American Indian, and the New Black Panther to name a few. Members told Cleveland 19 News they're going to focus on police brutality and Donald Trump.
The convention opened Thursday with a town hall meeting at the Second Ebenezer Baptist Church. Activists Art McCoy, of Black on Black Crime, came ready to work.
"We don't benefit from the wisdom of our age," said the 70-year-old McCoy. "We catch hell that the young men catch. So therefore, again, I say to you at 28 they beat the hell out of me. I've watched my friends be killed by police officers. I've watched them be killed by themselves. I've watched be killed in domestic, violent relations. So that's exactly what we're here to talk about."
Those in attendance wanted to make things better and find solutions, including how to work with police. In the next two days, speakers, thinkers, and educators will address systemic problems including police brutality and the shooting deaths of black men and boys.
Shabazz said the coalition has a permit to peacefully protest in Perk Plaza and hold marches, town halls and community workshops around the city. He addressed concerns that New Black Panthers would be armed.
"They will not be open carrying weapons, I want to say that because that has been brought about to scare people but I do want to say they will be performing security and they will have all the necessary equipment to make sure that we are peaceful, safe and secure," he said.
The convention will feature a March Against Racism, Injustice, and Donald Trump at noon near The Q on Saturday. On Monday, when the RNC officially begins, the group plans to hold a news conference.
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