Chanting protesters met Ken Silva on Sunday when he hit Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.
“It was crazy. I get off the Chester Road exit off I-71 and it’s eerily silent. I hear a police helicopter echoing off the buildings but other than that it’s empty,” he said.
Then he turned a corner and there was a mob of people, all chanting.
A parade of about 100 people snowballed as it traveled past Quicken Loans Arena. While loud and passionate, the wave of left-leaning Black Lives Matter supporters was peaceful and didn’t encounter much in the way of right-wing resistance.
Silva is no stranger to protests.
He cut his journalistic teeth as a reporter from 2012 to 2014 for the Oberlin News-Tribune, also writing and contributing to many stories for the Amherst News-Times and Wellington Enterprise.
Now he reports for the BVI Beacon weekly newspaper and BusinessBVI magazine in the British Virgin Islands.
The past few months, Silva’s focus has been on the use of tax havens in the Caribbean, where thousands of companies have moved accounts to avoid paying taxes.
The practice has been the source of ire for years. During his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, Barack Obama criticized tax havens, pointing to an estimated $13 trillion hidden in offshore accounts.
The Panama Papers — 11.5 million leaked documents dating back to the 1970s — blew open the tax haven problem earlier this year. They detailed how 214,488 offshore entities kept corporate and personal financial information secret through often illegal means, avoiding paying due taxes.
Silva journeyed back home (he’s from Medina originally) from the island of Tortola to ask Republican National Convention attendees about their views on tax havens.
He plans to do the same next week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
The topic isn’t an easy one. Silva said he has his work cut out getting quality insights on a complicated issue.
And while he’s in town, he plans to document the tensions he witnesses in Cleveland.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said of Sunday’s protest, the first major flare-up of the RNC. “It’s just crazy to me.”
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Courtesy photos These images, snapped by former Civitas Media reporter Ken Silva, show demonstrators rallying against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in downtown Cleveland. Silva posted dozens of photos online showing the tense atmosphere in the build-up to the Republican National Convention, including photos of bicycle-mounted police and protesters.