Cleveland — On the eve of the Republican National Convention, host city Cleveland is opening its arms to welcome delegates and turning up security to try and keep them safe.
As thousands of GOP delegates, including the North Carolina delegation, gathered, security around the Quicken Loans Arena and convention center was tight for the convention set to nominate Donald Trump for president.
Barricades and thousands of law enforcement officers were already in place Sunday. Designated protest areas were set up far away from the arena, but a small protest had formed outside that zone Sunday evening.
On the other side of the fences and barricades, just a few blocks away, delegates were focused on enjoying their trip and their political mission.
“I think it’s great that our party’s coming together. We’re united and we’re excited about November, and we’re ready to beat Hillary,” said Zach Almond of Albemarle.
“In America, there are a lot of people that are angry over what’s going on and would like to see a real change, and I’m one of them,” said David Black of Concord.
Chairman Robin Hayes is leading the delegation from North Carolina and said he has several goals for the convention.
“To have our delegation show its commitment, their dedication and their desire to change this country, to put it back on a track to free enterprise, less government, less regulation, individual freedom and responsibility through the actions that they take as we put the whole process together, culminating Thursday night with the nomination of Donald Trump,” he said.
Hayes said he is concerned about security in Cleveland, especially in light of recent incidents such as the police shooting in Baton Rouge, La., but he’s impressed with the law enforcement preparation.
Uneasy about security coming to Cleveland, North Carolina GOP delegates also praised law enforcement for keeping the opposition out.
“I have never seen a law enforcement presence like I have in the hour that we’ve been out here. On the ground, in the air, it’s unbelievable,” said DeVan Barbour of Benson.
“I think that it’s comforting to know that we can come here and do what we signed up to do,” said Black.
The first day of the convention on Monday will be mostly housekeeping, and the nomination roll call is Tuesday.
Speakers this week include former presidential candidate Ben Carson on Tuesday, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on Wednesday before Trump is expected to accept the GOP nomination with a speech Thursday night.