The city of Cleveland turned the area surrounding the Quicken Loans Arena into a fortress ahead of the Republican National Convention this week. As part of the RNC security measures, Cleveland police set up nearly four miles of steel fences around downtown, purchased 2,000 sets of riot gear and 10,0000 sets of plastic handcuffs, and established two rings of security. And, of course, they made sure the whole fruit ban in the convention arena was effectively in place.
“They can be thrown,” one Secret Service officer told the New York Post.
Hey, you can never be too careful. No one wants Melania Trump to take a kiwi to the throat. So if you’re at the RNC and need to eat some fruit, best to buy it pre-cut so you don’t get tackled by big guys in suits.
The RNC banned items list also includes knives, guns, fireworks, as well as other obviously dangerous items. The convention's fruit ban may seem slightly paranoid in comparison, but conventioneers are wise to not underestimate the power of this breakfast staple to wreak havoc.
Throwing rotten tomatoes, in particular, has long been a go-to tool for personal and political expression. We often associate the tomato-as-projectile with Shakespearean times, though archaeologists at the Globe and Rose theaters have discovered that it’s more likely audiences back then would have thrown dried figs or oyster shells to show their displeasure with a performance. In the modern era, a variety of political entities have used tomatoes to show dissent, such as Russian opposition activists in 2013. PETA, for one, still hosts the online game called "Revenge of the PETA Tomatoes" on its page that encourages players to throw tomatoes at “slow-moving, dull-witted fur-wearers.”
“My guess is that people throw food because it is cheap, visible, and easily accessible,” Columbia University political science professor Andrew Gelman told Bon Appétit’s Rochelle Bilow. “Tomatoes are inexpensive, easy to throw, and make a satisfying splat.”
None of this is lost on Cleveland police, who are bracing themselves for every possible disruption this week.
“We are prepared, and we have done our due diligence in many different ways,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said at a press conference in May.
On this point, the city may, in fact, simply be heeding the specific concerns of the now-official GOP nominee Donald Trump, who back in February seemed particularly alert to the perils of flying fruit.
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK?” Trump told a crowd in Iowa. “Just knock the hell… I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”