The scene in downtown Cleveland on Wednesday, the third day of the Republican National Convention, was peaceful in the morning but evolved into chaos by late afternoon.
At least 10 people were arrested following a flag burning near Quicken Loans Arena in protest of Donald Trump’s nomination as the Republican presidential candidate.
The protests briefly made it difficult for convention delegates and reporters to enter the arena.
Even while waiting to be loaded into police vans, protesters continued to chant. They made their stance clear: A country that chooses Trump as a legitimate presidential candidate, they said, is one that deserves revolution.
Among their chants: “America was never great.”
Cleveland police said two officers suffered minor injuries when they were assaulted during the protest.
However, police and firefighters on the scene quickly brought order to the chaos, extinguishing the fire and removing the flag.
— Connor Ryan (@connortryan) July 21, 2016
Some were mounted on horses, while others wearing riot gear and carrying shields guarded the road from entry.
Drawing a line
Earlier in the day in Public Square, a group of Latinos and Latinas worked to “wall off Trump.”
Among a dozen men and women wearing brick and chain-link wall costumes was Eva Cardenas, a program coordinator with the Ruckus Society.
“Standing with front-line communities to create a line of defense against Trump’s hate and racism is all of our responsibility,” Cardenas said. “We’re not just sending a message against Trump — we’re calling on everyone to stand up and take responsibility for the future of this country.”
The event was designed to put into perspective Trump’s plans to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Cardenas, 28, of Atlanta, said the controversial plans marginalize Latinos and Latinas. She demanded that Trump and other politicians begin looking out for the best interests of all people, not just rich, white Americans.
“Today we are drawing a line in the sand to demand respect for our communities,” she said. “No one else is doing this for us.”
Ramon Mejia, 33, of Dallas, agreed with Cardenas. Mejia, a Latino Muslim and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, accused Trump of using hateful rhetoric against people of color.
He especially took issue with Trump’s comments that Mexico was sending its rapists and thieves to the United States as undocumented immigrants, and his calls to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. as a precaution because they could be members of the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State.
Another anti-Trump demonstration occurred nearby. Code Pink, a national anti-war organization, held a mock Miss America pageant, hosted by a caricature of Donald Trump carrying bags of money.
The demonstrators made their case to be named Miss America, highlighting their pro-choice, anti-war, pro-woman, pro-immigration and anti-gun stances. After each one, the Trump caricature commented with humorous remarks.
Meanwhile, Trump supporters and opponents of his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton made their own appearances.
One man arrived carrying a sign listing what he perceived as Clinton’s misdeeds.
Another man, Kenneth Lane of New York, engaged in an impassioned debate with Minnesota resident Allyne Holz. Lane and Holz had arrived in Public Square separately to watch the protests and demonstrations but debated each other in front of news cameras.
Lane, a Trump supporter, said he was angered by ignorance, “fake media” and what he described as the “new world order.”
Holz later said she arrived in Cleveland to spread God’s grace. She accused Lane of directing his anger at her, for which he immediately apologized.
You can’t go 5 feet in downtown Cleveland without overhearing an argument about Trump versus Clinton, gun rights versus gun control, or whether blue or black lives matter more. But those passionate and polarizing discussions haven’t boiled over into violence or disruption.
An overwhelming police presence clearly has helped.
More than 3,000 officers from at least a dozen states have outnumbered demonstrators at any single event, according to Steve Loomis, president of the city’s largest police union.
Only five people were arrested from Sunday to Tuesday, police said, and just three were charged with protest-related crimes.
“I wouldn’t say that things have been calm,” Jocelyn Rosnick, head of the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, said earlier this week. “But things have been going the way that they should be going.”
“Much to our pleasant surprise up to this point, all of our fears have been unfounded,” Administrative and Presiding Judge Ronald B. Adrine said Wednesday after an arraignment for three protesters who tried to hang an anti-Trump flag at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
That could still change. Activists say protests will swell Thursday when Trump formally accepts the GOP nomination.
Beacon Journal wire services contributed to this report. Nick Glunt can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com.
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