Cops break up scuffles among demonstrators in Cleveland
Cleveland — Police broke up scuffles between groups of demonstrators a few blocks from the Republican National Convention as crowds in the hundreds gathered Tuesday afternoon.
There were no arrests, police said, despite several tense moments that saw officers step in between protesters pushing and shouting at each other during some of the biggest, most raucous gatherings in downtown Cleveland since the four-day convention began on Monday.
One skirmish broke out when right-wing conspiracy theorist and radio show host Alex Jones started speaking in downtown’s Public Square through a bullhorn. Police on bicycles pushed back a surging crowd, and Jones was whisked away.
Minutes later, more officers on bicycles formed a line to separate a conservative religious group from a communist-leaning organization carrying a sign that read, “America Was Never Great.”
Overall, five people have been arrested since the convention started, said police spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia.
That includes one person accused of trying to steal a state trooper’s gas mask and three people who allegedly climbed flagpoles at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and hung an anti-Donald Trump banner.
The demonstrators on Tuesday — including anti-Muslim protesters, religious conservatives and marchers decrying racism and “murder by police” — appeared outnumbered by law officers and members of the media.
Demonstrators soon spilled into the streets, and some appeared to be making their way toward the convention arena before turning back. More skirmishes broke out at one intersection. But by the evening, the protests were breaking up.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams waded into crowds of demonstrators during the day, warning one group, “It’s an unlawful gathering. You’re blocking a city street.” They eventually moved along.
About 300 officers from more than a dozen law enforcement agencies are patrolling on bicycles in downtown Cleveland during the convention, the police chief said.
Supporters of bike patrols say they make officers more maneuverable and less threatening-looking at a time when tensions are running high between police and the public.
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