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At Least 17 Arrests Outside The RNC During Attempted Flag Burning

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 20, 2016 11:33PM

At least 17 people were arrested at the gates of the Quicken Loans Arena at the Republican National Convention when the Revolutionary Communist Party attempted to burn an American flag Wednesday afternoon.

Surrounded by hundreds of reporters and photographers along with some delegates and counter demonstrators including the “bikers for Trump,” the group attempted to burn the flag twice, succeeding briefly the second time. Gregory “Joey” Johnson was the first of the group to make the attempt. Johnson is known for being the defendant in a landmark Supreme Court case after he burned a flag at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. Johnson was arrested and convicted of desecrating the flag, but the court later overturned the decision in a 5 to 4 ruling.

A second demonstrator managed to set fire to the flag shortly after Johnson was arrested and it briefly caught fire before a person in the crowd threw water on it.

Several scuffles broke out as police attempted to make arrests and push demonstrators, media and onlookers out of the way. At one point, police fired what appeared to be pepper spray, hitting and injuring at least one woman (see the video embedded in the first Tweet below, :24 seconds in). Soon after, they pushed the majority of the crowd as far away as possible, but due to the small area, narrow sidewalks and large barricades, it was difficult for anyone to move anywhere. Police Chief Calvin Williams was on hand for a time urging calm.

Charges against the arrested include felony assault on a police officer, failure to disperse and resisting arrest. While no members of the press were arrested, the Cleveland Police Department did throw some shade on Twitter towards the media, saying the large presence of photographers and journalists makes it “difficult to police demonstrators.”