Police Officers in downtown Cleveland on Sunday.
Police Officers in downtown Cleveland on Sunday.

CLEVELAND (Diya TV) — Sunday’s attack on police officers in Baton Rouge, La. put a damper over the spirits during the opening of this week’s Republican National Convention, where presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump responded by saying the country was falling apart.

A string of police shootings over the last few weeks, couples with the killings of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, had already pushed gun violence and the topic of social injustice to the forefront of both Trump’s and Hillary Clintons campaigns. Trump has branded himself as the “law and order candidate,” first debuting the label after the fatal shootings of five Dallas police officers, and is likely to reiterate the same message in the coming days of the convention.

Within hours of Sunday’s shootings, in which three police officers were fatally shot and several others wounded, Trump said the nation had become a “divided crime scene” and said that the Islamic State was watching in the distance. Soon after, President Obama issued a public request for calm, Trump responded on Twitter, saying Obama “doesn’t have a clue.”

Jeff Larson, the convention’s chief executive, said in a news conference that a leading speaker would be Rudolph W. Giuliani, whom he described as “the law-and-order mayor of New York.”

Giuliani has on more than one occasion described publicly his disdain for “Black Lives Matter,” calling the movement “inherently racist.” The former New York City Mayor has become notoriously known for the promotion of more aggressive policing during his time as a lawmaker, and has been outspoken in his defense of law enforcement practices over the last few weeks.

In Cleveland, the recent police killings set the stage for a tense atmosphere for the week of the convention. Long before Sunday’s events in Baton Rouge, organizers began preparations for the possibilities of mass demonstrations and potential unrest. Cleveland has assigned about 500 police officers specifically to handle the convention, and it has brought in thousands more officers to help, from departments as distant as California and Texas.

“This has got everybody on edge,” said Tony Perkins, a former state legislator from Baton Rouge who is the leader of the Family Research Council, a conservative group. “The nation is in shock. If it were an isolated incident, probably not so much so, but this is the second in two weeks.”

Anxiety grew throughout the day Sunday in Cleveland, an official of the police union urged Gov. John Kasich, a Republican and former candidate of this year’s election himself, to enact harsh restrictions on gun rights around the convention zone as an added safety precaution. Kasich’s office rejected the idea as legally impossible.

The governor said he did not have “the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws.”

Some local officials have described the same concerns, in part thanks to Ohio’s open-carry gun laws. Though demonstrators and others in the convention district have been barred from possessing a range of items, including gas masks, there was no prohibition on the brandishing of firearms.

Roger F. Villere Jr., chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, said a shudder was sent through the state’s contingency in Cleveland once word of the attack in Baton Rouge reached them. Villere’s party office is located in Baton Rouge, and said he’d been attending church in suburban Ohio when he cellphone first began erupting with phone calls and text messages.

Several members of the Louisiana delegation have close ties with law enforcement back home, Villere said, adding those members will seek to arrange a prayer vigil and memorial services this week.