A Lens on the GOP Convention: Activists Arrested for Flag Burning on Day 3 (Multimedia)

The first action of Day 3 in Cleveland's Public Square. (Michael Nigro)

Editor’s note: Photojournalist Michael Nigro is in Cleveland to provide Truthdig with photos and videos of noteworthy moments from outside the 2016 GOP convention, where protesters and activists have gathered to express their views. Tune in to Truthdig daily this week to see Nigro’s dispatches.

CLEVELAND—Plenty of Republican hyperbole was heard over the airwaves and in the streets Wednesday on how the Grand Old Party will now, finally, unify under its official nominee for President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. This, however, may prove to be Grand Old Posturing. As one alternate delegate from Ohio, who asked not to be named, said, “We now have to put lipstick on our elephant.” Was he an alternate delegate? I really don’t know. Frankly, I just liked his line.

While a “Political Party Makeover” whiffs of a new reality series starring Donald Trump, there is zero “produced reality” as to how utterly divided the anti-Trump and pro-Trump camps that keep filling the streets remain. The tension on Day 3 of the Republican National Convention continued to coil, from the omnipresent shouting matches to large and bold actions, including an attempt to burn the American flag.

The mandate of the police force (and it is a force) is to monitor these habitual flare-ups and to let the drama play itself out. If, however, they deem it necessary to move in, they are pre-crime mobilized around the dispute and move biblically in by twos, often rolling bikes, then bend into a municipal circle to ripple the chaos outward.

Breaking up the clashes with physicality and violent maneuvers escalated during the afternoon’s flag burning attempt. Bikes, once again, were used as crowd and media control, and pepper spray also was deployed prior to the arrest of 17 people who participated in the action. The flag burning took place in front of one of the main entrances to the GOP arena. It was designated a crime scene.

Say hello to Day 3 of the Republican National Convention.

One of the protesters arrested after the American flag was set on fire. It was quickly extinguished by the Cleveland Fire Department. Pepper spray was deployed, and 17 people were arrested. (Michael Nigro)

Activists maneuvered through the crush of media and police to get a foothold on Prospect Avenue, where they staged their “Wall Off Trump” action. The protest wall was built by organizers, artists, parents, children and veterans who gathered together with Mijente, the Ruckus Society, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Working Families Party, the Other 98%, First Seven Design Labs, Grassroots Global Justice and others. (Michael Nigro)

Today’s collectible or ridiculous (or both) souvenir of the day. (Michael Nigro)

The scene as the arrests take place following the burning of the American flag in front of the main entrance that allows delegates into Quicken Loans Arena. (Michael Nigro)

Hundreds of protesters blocked the main entrance of the GOP convention on Prospect Avenue. The “Wall Off Trump” activists held brick-and-fence-designed banners that spanned over two city blocks. (Michael Nigro)

One of the “Wall Off Trump” ponchos. (Michael Nigro)

Cowboys in Cleveland. The Fort Worth Texas Mounted Unit await orders just on the perimeter of Public Square, one of the main protest hubs. According to the Cleveland Police Department and Department of Homeland Security, over 5,500 law enforcement officers have been assigned to Republican National Convention security. (Michael Nigro)

And then there’s this: humor. (Michael Nigro)

Early in the day on Wednesday, multiple news reports praised the peaceful police presence on the streets outside Quicken Loans Arena. “Despite the sometimes tense atmosphere and the overwhelming police presence, there were no arrests on Tuesday,” reported NBC News. “[T]here have been only five arrests since the RNC began.”

By early Wednesday afternoon, protests had already begun. Most notably, a group of protesters, calling attention to Donald Trump’s proposed immigration plan, attempted to “Wall Off Trump” by forming a long human barrier. Check out video footage of the action below:

Outside of the convention center this afternoon, Michael Nigro shared:

Gregory Lee Johnson, who burned an American flag outside the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas in a protest against President Ronald Reagan, plans another burning today at the #RNCinCle

He then streamed the below videos live on our Facebook page. According to USA Today, at least five people were arrested and two police officers suffered minor injuries as a result of the demonstration.


Michael Nigro
Michael Nigro is an award-winning filmmaker, Emmy nominated writer-director and social justice activist based in Brooklyn, New York. His work as a photojournalist began during Occupy Wall Street and later he…
Michael Nigro

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