CLEVELAND – At least five demonstrators were arrested and two officers suffered minor injuries when a flag-burning protest erupted into chaos outside the arena where the Republican National Convention is being held.
The demonstrators appeared to splinter off from a larger protest marching through Cleveland’s streets Wednesday and headed toward the Quicken Loans Arena. Soon, they were flanked by a small army of police officers, who formed a human wall that let through only delegates and others with credentials. Large groups of journalists and other observers surrounded the area, too, watching as police descended into the area.
Several of the protesters said they were members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, chanting “America was never great” as they attempted to light the flag on fire. When they ignored an order to disperse, officers forced their way into the crowd and a firefighter took the flag they tried to burn. Cleveland Police reported that two officers had minor injuries, though it’s unclear how they were hurt.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams was among the dozens of officers on the scene, and was involved in forcing the protesters away. Officers riding bicycles and on horseback soon arrived to take command of the scene.
A member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Carl Dix, said the group was trying to make a political statement that “there’s nothing great about America.”
Officers soon roped off the area where the flag-burning was to take place, declaring it a crime scene. And the wall of officers began to disperse, though there was still a heavy police presence as delegates and others streamed through the entrance.