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2018 was a big election year in Ohio. Republicans held onto all five statewide executive offices including governor and super majorities in both the Ohio House and Senate. But there were a few bright spots for Democrats, among them the reelection of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the election of two Democrats to the Ohio Supreme Court.With election 2018 over, the focus now shifts to governing. Stay connected with the latest on politics, policies and people making the decisions at all levels affecting your lives.

Alternative Groups Try to be Heard Over the Roar of the GOP

Black Lives Matter rally
A rally drew a couple hundred to downtown Cleveland on the eve of the RNC

About 3 miles east of the red-white-and-blue draped Q, a couple hundred people gathered for a Peace and Justice Convention. Progressives, libertarians, environmentalists and the politically unchurched gathered in the basement of the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church for workshops ranging from fighting Islamaphobia to registering voters.

Come Sunday, the work moved to the other side of town and this convention’s organizer Greg Coleridge said the group had a peace and justice platform "that we believe represents the very best suggestions that are just, peaceful, democratic and non-violent as well as sustainable."

Peace and justice workshops included voter rights, incarceration and Islamaphobia.

Coleridge pledged it’s a platform that will be shared inside both the Republican convention in Cleveland this week and the Democratic gathering in Philadelphia next week – though the logistics were a little uncertain. In any case, it’s a message that will be declared on the stage at Cleveland’s Public Square this week, a message another organizer, Khalid Samar, says the country needs to hear. 

"We are those that are inclusive and not exclusive. We are those who understand the world has enough resources, it has enough talent, it has enough spiritual optimism in order to make our world a safer and a more productive place.”

There's no weapons involved. We trust the police to do their job effectively.

But lest anyone think this was a Democratic gathering, Lydia Bayoneta was there to explain otherwise. A socialist, she says,"for a long-long time the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are basically Tweedle D/TweedleDum. There hasn’t a great deal of differences in them.”

Enough is enough
A long-needed rain finally fell on Cleveland Saturday, perhaps one reason an expected crowd of as many as a 1,000 gathered at a Black Lives Matter rally  downtown  turned out to be closer to a couple hundred. Then again, it may have been reports that the New Black Panther Party would be openly carrying guns.

Bobby Price, who made the trip from Florida, says the Panthers thought about bringing weapons, then thought better.

“Legally we can do it, but given the heightened tensions around the country, and what’s going on that would have been a bad idea. This is a peaceful rally. There’s no weapons involved. We trust the police to do their job effectively.”

Keith Muhammed came over from Springfield, Ill. and plans to be here all week and to make a difference well beyond.

“My purpose in life is to change the way that mankind thinks. We have to understand that when God says ‘your neighbor,’ he doesn’t mean your neighbor next door. He means you are my neighbor, the Asian man is my neighbor, the Arab man is my neighbor, the Indian man is my neighbor, we’re all neighbors, we’re family.”

Well away from the RNC and the rain, Kea Mathis and her team fanned out in an Akron neighborhood. They were wearing Ohio Against Hate T-shirts, and they were talking to people about voting. Theirs an outreach of an effort called moveon.org – aligned mostly with Democrats. But they don’t bring up Hillary Clinton’s name. Just Donald Trump’s.

Kea Mathis

“We’re not telling people who to vote for. We’re having conversations to say this is what we know as far as Donald Trump. This is what he stands for, how do you feel about it? What will happen if you choose to sit out and not vote -- knowing that you’re that average working class person that he hasn’t necessarily identified in his making United States great again.” 

But as the anti-Trumps tried to ensure their message will be heard in the midst of the roar of the GOP this week, they acknowledged they’ll be sharing the public space with fiercely passionate pro-Trumps. In fact, they already were. As they worked on their message, a plane pulling a “Hillary-for-prison” banner circled overhead.

This story is part of the WKSU and ideastream reporting collaborative.