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17 arrested in flag-burning melee outside GOP convention

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Police held a protester to the ground during demonstration, today, in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Immigrant rights activists held up a fabric wall to protest Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s border wall idea, today, in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention.

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    A law enforcement officer tries extinguish a burning American flag, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention.

CLEVELAND » Police arrested 17 people Wednesday after a melee broke out during a flag-burning in the streets outside the Republican National Convention.

It was the most turbulent protest since the four-day convention began on Monday. The chaos briefly prevented delegates and members of the media from getting into the Quicken Loans Arena for the evening’s proceedings.

Among those arrested was Gregory “Joey” Johnson, whose torching of the flag at a GOP convention three decades ago led to the landmark 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said flag-burning is speech protected by the First Amendment.

Two officers were assaulted and suffered minor injuries, police said. One officer was seen bleeding from an elbow. Two of those arrested were charged with felonious assault on a police officer, the rest with failure to disperse.

Police Chief Calvin Williams said a protester whose pants caught fire got defensive when a police officer tried to put out the blaze. The man assaulted the officer, and “things escalated from there,” Williams said.

The melee brought to 22 the number of people arrested during the convention, far fewer than some law enforcement authorities had feared.

“Right now, I think so far, so good,” Williams said Wednesday night. “We’re still out there, we’re still vigilant, to make sure we finish this day and the last day tomorrow on a positive note.”

The protest took place just outside an entrance to the arena and near a row of popular restaurants where cable news networks had set up for the week.

Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party said the group organized the burning of the American flag as a “political statement about the crimes of the American empire. There’s nothing great about America.”

Moments after the flag was set on fire, officers charged in to put it out with an extinguishing spray that some in the crowd thought was pepper spray because of similarities in the design of the canisters and the eye irritation caused by the fire-suppression substance.

“You’re on fire! You’re on fire, stupid!” a Cleveland officer shouted at a protester while firing the extinguishing spray.

“Burn that rag! Burn that rag!” supporters of the group yelled.

Pushing and shoving broke out, and police quickly had several group members on the ground in handcuffs. Some in the crowd jeered the officers, yelling, “Blue lives murder!”

About 10 more minutes passed before the crowd was under control.

Earlier in the day Wednesday, blocks away from the arena, a right-wing religious group lifted a banner reading “Jesus is angry with you sinners,” while kissing lesbians mocked their message, helping turn Cleveland’s Public Square into part-carnival, part-debate floor.

The expansive square was a free-flowing mix of ideas and beliefs along with colorful characters pounding on bongos and wailing on a sousaphone.

The day’s demonstrations started when a few dozen people holding banners printed with a red-brick design formed a human wall to mock Donald Trump’s plan to seal off the Mexican border.

“We want to wall off the hate of Trump,” said Tim Chavez, of Columbus.

A half-dozen Trump supporters defended the GOP nominee from attacks by immigration activists.

Police officers used bicycles and their bodies to separate those with opposing views.

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  • Expect peaceful demonstrations outside the Honolulu Convention Center along the Ala Wai during the Environment Conference this Fall?

    Look for me playing my protest kazoo. (Protect Hawaii bees from Monsanto’s harmful chemicals).

    Trump will triumph only in his mind while Hillary will Hail come January 2017.

  • Regardless of all the illogical immigrant comments, the burning of the American flag SHOULD BE ILLEGAL !!! Oh yeah, on the topic of immigration: Did ANY of YOUR parents or grandparents have to go through any vetting other than a TB test and being registered with the US Government ?? Or, better yet, do any of you bigots think the US would be where it is now, THE GREATEST & MOST POWERFUL COUNTRY IN THE WORLD without immigrants ?? How about the minors that LIED about their age to fight in WW II because they wanted to serve their country, there were thousands of illegals in the Vietnam and Gulf Wars !! Should they have been deported ?? Get off your high and mighty perches and sniff some reality !!!

    • Hard to stomach the burning of the flag. It’s legal and protected. A lot of Americans died protecting that flag. The same lady was arrested 30 years ago, Must have been a white Panther.

  • The convention is an utter debacle. This man who claims he can bring people together, cannot even get the host state governor to attend, and just had his dignity and respect handed to him by Ted Cruz. So, divisive was the crowd, that Mrs. Cruz had to leave under a cadre of police escorts to protect her from republican hecklers. A state chair was reported to attempt to physically attack Ted Cruz in a donor suite and had to be restrained. Yes, sounds very much like a bunch of adults who embrace a variety of views–not.

    • I agree. What a mess.

      People at the convention are calling for the execution of Mrs. Clinton now. This is what Mr. Trump attracts – white supremacists, racists, bigots and violent psychopaths. And people wonder why Republicans with the merest dignity and common sense have run away from the Trump campaign like it’s radioactive.

      • Oh yes. Stay away and cling to a compulsively lying, corrupt incompetent who lied to Benghazi family members at a funeral. That’s the ticket. Given this record just think what Hillary could do with the protections and power of the presidency.

      • I saw many delegates who appeared to be minorities. Whether they were racists, bigots and violent psychopaths of course you would be a better judge.

        • Who were these people who called for the execution of Secretary Clinton. Unless you can prove intent they will walk. I heard some people wanting to lock her up. What did she do?

        • Some of them wore sombreros. I did not see any Native American headdress. I guess that for next week.

        • “…you would be a better judge.”

          No doubt. I’m sure the racists, bigots and violent psychopaths are just folks to you.

    • I thought the Convention was great. It was classy for Mr. Trump to invite the candidates to speak with no conditions. Great speech by Cruz. He really impressed the crowd.

    • There should be a full investigation and a Congressional hearing.
      This is totally reprehensible behavior.
      I believe Governor Kasich was invited to come. However he could not make it.
      Cruz made a great speech and congratulated Mr. Trump.

      What difference does it make at this point. The main thing is no one got hurt.

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