Protesters Clash With Police Outside Republican Convention

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Police arrest protesters outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 20, 2016.

Photographer: Terrence Dopp/Bloomberg
  • Small group of protesters attempted to burn an American flag
  • Convention has been largely peaceful despite security concerns

A small group of protesters clashed briefly with police outside the Republican convention in Cleveland Wednesday afternoon after the demonstrators attempted to burn an American flag.

Police in riot gear and on horseback moved in quickly to quell the disturbance, and several protesters struggled with police before being put in handcuffs.

A protester "lit flag on fire, then lit himself on fire, catching others on fire. Flames extinguished by firefighters. No serious injuries," the Cleveland police said on its verified Twitter account.

A group called the Revolution Club claimed responsibility for the protest, Sunsara Taylor, a member, told Bloomberg Politics. Cleveland police said that they arrested 17 people, including two who were charged with felonies for assaulting police officers.

As some of the protesters were loaded into Cleveland police vans, they chanted, "Revolution Club." Others wore T-shirts that said, "Revolution -- Nothing Less!"

Two officers were assaulted and suffered minor injuries, the Cleveland police department said. The police department also posted a photo of shreds of a singed American flag it said protesters attempted to destroy.

The protest began outside one of the main gates to the secure zone around the convention, where vice presidential nominee Mike Pence is scheduled to speak later Wednesday.

Within 30 minutes, the protest had largely dissipated and the gates were reopened to the convention’s secure area. 

Police ordered bystanders, including the sizable number of reporters and TV cameras, to disperse, threatening to arrest anybody who ignored the order.

Before the convention began, there were significant security concerns, particularly in the wake of recent police shootings. But the city has been largely peaceful, with minimal arrests related to protests.

Security has been extremely tight, with extra police officers coming from as far away as California and Florida.

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