Cleveland police arrested 17 people on suspicion of assaulting officers and failure to disperse after a U.S. flag was set on fire outside the Republican National Convention on Wednesday afternoon, but legal observers are disputing the police narrative of the incident.
Police Chief Calvin Williams said two people have been booked on charges of felony assault after they pushed and punched police who were trying to extinguish the fire outside the entrance to the Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday. Fifteen other protesters face various misdemeanor charges, including failure to disperse, he said.
Police had no plans to stop Revolutionary Communist Party members from burning the flag, which is a legal but controversial form of protest, and Williams said officers only moved in because several protesters' clothes caught on fire.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence hit all the standard notes for a high-profile political address Wednesday night: introducing himself to unfamiliar voters, extolling his running mate and making an explicit appeal to independent and Democratic voters.
That typical approach has been in short supply at the GOP nominating confab in Cleveland, with its outsized focus on base-pleasing issues like Benghazi and speakers whose anti-Hillary Clinton rhetoric is matched only by the audience’s preferred chant of “Lock her up!”
Adding to the unreality was Sen. Ted Cruz’s non-endorsement of Donald Trump just an hour before Pence took the stage, prompting a chaotic backlash from attendees.
Donald Trump supporter Michael Der Manouel, a California delegate from Fresno, is not happy with Sen. Ted Cruz.
“Everybody believed he was building to a point in his speech where he would endorse Donald Trump, and he couldn’t bring himself to do it, and the convention expressed its displeasure,” Der Manouel told The Times.
“He couldn’t bring himself to do what Reagan did in ’76, and it’s very disappointing,” he said. “We’re going to move forward without all of these guys who reneged on their endorsement pledge. We’re going to move forward without them.”
In her Wednesday night convention speech, retired astronaut Eileen Collins lamented the fact that the last time the U.S. launched astronauts on American soil was more than five years ago, imploring leaders to "do better than that."
She called for "leadership that will make America's space program first again," but skipped a line in her prepared remarks that would have endorsed newly-minted Republican nominee Donald Trump.
She said she wanted to keep not political. She also passed up an opportunity to slam Obama for space program cuts. It was weird.