Demonstrators burned an American flag, others formed a symbolic human wall to counter Donald Trump’s plan to build one along the Mexican border, and a cartoonist dressed as Captain America wearing a turban preached tolerance on the third day of protests at the Republican National Convention.
Cleveland police spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia said firefighters extinguished the burning flag, which was at East Fourth Street and Prospect Avenue East, according to a police social media report.
Police Chief Calvin Williams told reporters that 17 people involved in the flag-burning protest were arrested, including two on felony charges and 15 for misdemeanors ranging from failing to disperse to assaulting a police officer. Two officers suffered minor injuries,
Williams said protesters were taking over the intersection, blocking the entrance to Quicken Loans Arena, where there was a secure area for delegates and others.
Williams said the person who lit the flag also set himself on fire. The protester pushed an officer away as police tried to extinguish him, and a few other people also accidentally caught fire, he said.
The Revolutionary Communist Party took credit for burning the flag near the arena. Co-founder Carl Dix of New York City said the flag burning was “a political statement because America was never great.”
Blocks away, demonstrations in Public Square, the area designated for protests, were a mix of spectacle and performance art — most in opposition to Trump, the Republican nominee for president.
Anti-Trump demonstrators with Mijente, a political and grass roots and community empowerment organization, wore ponchos with painted bricks signifying a wall, and locked arms. Demonstrators also marched through the streets carrying another long symbolic cloth wall, and chanted “Wall off Trump.”
“We’re here to give Donald Trump the wall he wants, but we’re not doing it at the border, we’re doing it here in Cleveland to wall off Trump and his hate,” said Chicago resident Antonio Gutierrez, a member of Mijente.
Meanwhile, Kenneth Lane of Amityville held court in Public Square, shouting his support for Trump. Lane said he came to Cleveland because he wanted to show that “there are plenty of black people that love Trump.”
“We know that there is a group of power brokers that are running this country, Trump is not a part of this group,” Lane said as reporters formed a circle around him. “He’s an outsider.”
Vishavjit Singh, 45, a Sikh living in New York, wore his Captain America costume in Public Square. Singh came to Cleveland with Comixcast, a group of cartoonists speaking out against Trump in their work.
“We are here to respond to racism, bigotry and intolerance,” said Singh.
He said some Republicans have talked to him as he wore the uniform and carried anti-Trump signs.
“It’s this strange power of an imaginary uniform of a 75-year-old character that somehow Americans are like ‘this is a quintessential American,’ ” he said. “Our stories are a lot more important than what we look like.”
With Michael Gormley