CLEVELAND, Ohio — Protesters outside the perimeter of the Republican National Convention engaged in a series of skirmishes Wednesday afternoon with law enforcement, resulting in 17 arrests.
The incidents began a little before 4 p.m., when a group of Black Bloc activists began to assemble outside the convention entrance at Fourth Street and Prospect in downtown Cleveland in anticipation of a planned burning of the U.S. flag. A series of melées occurred.
The maneuvers seem to have been a “stress test” designed to see how law enforcement reacted. As Breitbart News reported recently, members of the Black Bloc appeared to engage in a similar test late Monday night as they led law enforcement on a wild goose-chase around downtown Cleveland.
Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby, who is familiar with leftist protest tactics, said:
The entire appeared to be a stress test and a test of the anti-RNC protesters numbers. They put a call out to gather and people trickled in. The protesters wanted to see if they could make it to the main entrance to the convention and how the police would react.
The law enforcement response was to insert a thick column of officers on bikes through the crowd and then to separate again and divide the crowd into quadrants.
Unfortunately, what today showed was that the current police strategy being used in Cleveland would result in reporters, convention goers, and curious citizens being locked into crowds with anarchist protesters. This means innocent attendees could end up receiving the same treatment as the protesters without a method to extricate themselves.
As Breitbart News reported recently, members of the Black Bloc engaged in a similar stress test late Monday night as they led law enforcement around downtown Cleveland.
So far, throughout the convention, law enforcement has done a very effective job of containing a smaller-than-expected turnout for protesters. At some events, there seem to been as many reporters, National Lawyers Guild observers, and police as there were protesters. Additionally, the police and other personnel, who includes officers from around the country, have acted as goodwill ambassadors and have been a friendly presence on the streets of Cleveland.
Wednesday’s protest, however, represented the first real skirmishes of the convention and appeared to be a buildup in anticipation of Thursday night, which is a prime target for protesters because it is both the last night of the convention and the Donald Trump will accept the nomination of his party.
A law enforcement source told Breitbart News that the FBI had uncovered “urine bombs” in a parking garage early Wednesday morning — another sign that police are expecting more trouble as the convention continues.