(CNN)There is a small army occupying the streets of Cleveland during the Republican National Convention this week.
Welcome to Fortress Cleveland -- heavy security blankets convention city
Federal, state and local law enforcement have taken over the city's downtown, as iron and concrete barriers throttle typically bustling thoroughfares and choke off pedestrian outlets in the 1.7 square mile "event zone" surrounding the Quicken Loans Arena.
"What we're seeing here is a militarized state," Cindy Wiesner, an activist with the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, told CNN on Tuesday. Amnesty International USA, which has human rights observers on the ground in Cleveland, said in a statement that their "delegation noted a heavy police presence that sometimes outnumbered protesters."
Snow plows have popped up in the 80-degree summer heat, strategically placed to block automobile access to closed off streets. An estimated 2,500 police officers, shuttled in from around the country to supplement the 550-strong local force assigned to guard the convention, are fanned out across the city. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said last week that 3,000 more federal agents would join them.
Tuesday afternoon, uniformed police on foot, bike and horseback entered, closed off and surrounded Public Square, one of the few public spaces open to licensed demonstrations, as socialists threatened Westboro Baptist Church members as a group protesting police violence tried to make themselves heard over the din.
A smaller coalition of anarchists peeled off from the gathering and attempted to march on the convention hub, but a phalanx of officers blocked their narrow path. What followed was a cat-and-mouse game, with some shouting but no arrests, that ended farther away from the arena than when it began -- on another closed off avenue.