It has been an awful week in the U.S. — a week of murder, anger, anguish, fear, and a week awash in the neverending river of guns that enable it all. A week in which a racist one-time congressman told the president and Black Lives Matter  to, “Watch out … Real America is coming for you,” a week in which a right-wing activist pulled a gun on protesters at a BLM rally in Portland, Oregon, a week in which a 15-year-old boy cried for his father and a four-year-old girl comforted her mother after her boyfriend was shot in front of them. And, jarringly, it was a week in which the presumptive Republican nominee issued a through-the-lookingglass statement calling for “love and compassion” in the wake of the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, and the murder of five police officers by a still-indeterminate number of snipers in Dallas last night.

Four months ago, when we first started thinking about how Belt might best cover the RNC’s takeover of Cleveland, it seemed like an opportunity for a grand reporting adventure, and when commenters inevitably quipped “bring your flak jacket!” we shrugged it off. Not any more. “It’s going be a circus!” crowed the pundits — but a circus is supposed to be fun, not an exercise in managing collective fear and panic in an open-carry state.  (And yes, we know that there are no guns allowed inside the arena, but we’re not allowed in there either. We will be in the streets, with these folks.)

This week, with the convention ten days away, it’s all feeling, frankly, a little scary.

So, here’s what happened this week on the road to the RNC.

Here at Belt we are ramping up our strategy for covering the convention week from as many angles as possible. Our RNC Fellows are packing their bags, and one of them has already hit the road, on foot. Follow along with Drew’s journey, and all our coverage this month, under our website’s RNC in CLE tag, and on Twitter at #beltRNC.

Also this week, Belt publisher Anne Trubek has thoughts about why we shoudn’t use the term “alt-right” to describe the white supremacists who will soon arrive in town.

And — one nice thing that happened today — the Plain Dealer notes that our Cleveland Neighborhood Guidebook is “cheerfully icononclastic.” It may not exactly be geared to RNC visitors, but it’s for anyone who “wants to dig deeper into the real Cleveland.” Intrepid delegates, take note.

Got RNC tips? Send them our way, to