Dozens arrested on the third day of the RNC

Posted at 6:47 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-20 22:07:16-04

Cleveland police on Wednesday arrested 18 people, including a man who tried to set an American flag on fire and then burn himself when officers intervened.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, during a press briefing Wednesday evening, said officers were in the process of booking the individuals who were taken into custody shortly after 4:30 p.m. A total of 23 people have been arrested since the start of the Republican National Convention, according to police. 

The chief did not identify anyone who was arrested. He said that information would be available after they have been charged.

Wednesday appeared to be the most active day for officers and emergency personnel outside the convention, which officially kicked off on Monday. The protests have mostly been peaceful, and earlier this week Williams noted that officers were pleased.  

That changed Wednesday when authorities were told protesters would attempt to burn a flag near East 4th Street and Prospect Avenue. A heavy police presence hovered in that area, including mounted patrol officers, who can use the horses to restore order.  

WEWS crews near The Q said around 4:30 p.m. that they were being blocked by police from leaving the area through the East 4th exit. They were allowed to leave the area around 5:30 p.m.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m., a man tried to burn the American flag. Officers intervened, and then the man lit himself on fire, causing others to catch on fire. Firefighters extinguished the fires and no one was seriously injured.

Williams said two officers were assaulted and received minor injuries.

Watch the video above to see what happened when protesters attempted to burn the flag. 

The series of events prompted police to issue a dispersal order around 4:50 p.m. for East 4th Street and Prospect Avenue. 

Just before 5 p.m., Cleveland police said at least 5 people were arrested. By 6:15 p.m., that number had risen to 17. Police said they were still tallying all arrests.