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Sean Maupin, 29, is a maintenance man for an apartment complex in Denver, “the most beautiful city I've ever been to. It's liberal enough to legalize pot and conservative enough to not take your guns away. It's right in the middle. All people have the right to believe what they believe and prosper in their own lives.”
He gets two vacations a year from his job.
“I could be on a beach,” he said. “But Cleveland sounded better.”
He got interested in politics as a response to post-9/11 wars and civil liberties abrogations. “Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, the wars in general, the drones, the Patriot Act, the fact that we no longer have a right to our personal privacy our property. One bill took away half of our rights in one day. I was 13 years old when it happened and I still haven't figured it out. Obama said he would reverse it but he hasn’t.”
Five months ago, a friend of his had an idea. He asked Sean if he wanted to come and be a buffer during the protests––to make sure that everything unfolds as peacefully as possible.
“I’m here,” he said, “to support a bunch of people who I don’t really agree with who have ideas I don’t really believe in, some I can’t even stand to be around, but everybody has a right to believe what they believe in. I would really like to see both sides take a deep breath, look each other in the eyes and have an actual conversation.”
He isn’t a Trump supporter.
“But I want to make sure that Trump gets his nomination. That’s what the people voted for. I want to open up dialogue between the white supremacists, Black Lives Matter, and the cops. I want to stress the fact that not all cops are bad, the white supremacists are allowed to march because that’s they’re right, even though I don’t agree with them. And I feel the same about those who carry guns––I don’t have a gun or a need for it, but I fully support the gun march because it is their right to do so.”
He hopes that cooler heads prevail all week, and that going forward, his generation starts to participate in the political process more often. “We voted in Obama, which I thought was a good thing,” he explained, “but we screwed him on the House and Senate. If we don’t get out to vote and understand there are elections every two years, not just every four years, we’re never going to fix things.”
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Bella, 34, came from Denver with Sean and his photographer friend. She isn’t as politically active as they are. “But I had the car,” she said. So she left the Burner collective where she lives and drove them across boring old Kansas to the Republican convention and weathered a thunderstorm in her first-ever night sleeping in a park.
In this election, she is anti-Donald Trump. Her reasons are straightforward.
“I work for these very nice Muslim brothers in Denver and I make schawarma, falafel and baba ganoush. And I do hookah. We get the men straight off the boat from the Middle East, and they look at me skeptically when I bring their food out. But then they taste it and they’re like this is delicious, you know what you’re doing.”