Prophets of Rage Lead Day of Protests Outside RNC

By Jonathan Gang
Photos by Pankaj Khadka
BU News Service

Expectations of widespread unrest proved unfounded – with one notable exception – on day one of the Republican National Convention as small groups of protesters and counter-protesters wandered the streets outside of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, carrying sings and chanting but remaining mostly peaceful.

The day’s most high-profile protest came from the band Prophets of Rage, a supergroup consisting of members of the 80s and 90s hip-hop and rap-metal groups Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill. Following an earlier free concert at a rally a few miles out from the convention hall, the group staged an impromptu set in Cleveland Public Square just outside of the arena, performing on a small stage with only a boombox for backing tracks and megaphones for amplification.

“Inside the RNC, a thinly veiled racism, sexism and imperialism is being put forward as their platform,” said the group’s guitarist and bandleader Tom Morello, speaking into a megaphone to a small crowd that seemed to consist of equal parts fist-pumping protesters and journalists frantically scribbling notes and taking photos. “Out here human rights, respect for the planet and resistance to oppression is what we’re singing about”

The band performed a 20 minute set that featured hits from the members’ various bands, including Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise,” Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Membrane” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name.” The band will play again tonight at Cleveland’s Agora Ballroom

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