The Latest: Protests ease outside GOP Convention


CLEVELAND (AP) — The Latest on protests, rallies and marches outside the Republican National Convention (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

Hundreds of demonstrators who had gathered in Cleveland’s Public Square have scattered ahead of Donald Trump’s prime-time acceptance speech on the last night of the Republican convention.

Shouting matches and scuffles among the groups came to a halt Thursday once they were outnumbered by hundreds of police officers who streamed into the square.

Groups included anarchists, anti-Muslim protesters and Bikers for Trump. Later Thursday evening, kids played in Public Square fountains and a group gave out free hugs.

Though still gathered in large numbers, police seemed more relaxed as the evening went on.

Gone were protesters yelling into bullhorns and a stage set up for demonstrators was empty for the first time all week.

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7:45 p.m.

Police say a Georgia state trooper treated for skin irritation came into contact with a sticker in Cleveland’s downtown Public Square during protests surrounding the Republican National Convention.

Cleveland police spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia (chach) said Thursday a Cleveland police officer was also treated for skin irritation that didn’t involve a sticker.

Ciaccia said officers were investigating and urging people not to take stickers from people they don’t know.

Ciaccia says police continue to monitor convention protests.

Authorities also said most of the people arrested during a flag-burning protest Wednesday have been charged with misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct or obstruction of business.

Authorities say most are free on personal recognizance bonds with some accused of flag burning still not charged while prosecutors review charges.

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6 p.m.

Cleveland police say two officers have been treated for skin irritation following reports of stickers that cause a burning sensation when applied.

Police said Thursday a Georgia state trooper was treated and released, and a Cleveland officer was still being treated.

Cleveland police said the cause of the skin irritation was unknown.

Police also placed syringes on a list of items banned in the protest zone created for the Republican National Convention after unconfirmed reports of officers being injured with syringes.

The police announcements came as protest groups continued to fill Public Square and an anti-Trump group prepared a second rally and march on the last day of the convention.

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5:45 p.m.

The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is criticizing a delay in a hearing for more than a dozen people arrested following a flag-burning protest.

The ACLU said Thursday there was no reason for the 17 people to be held so long on minor charges.

Lawyers representing those arrested during the Wednesday afternoon protest near the arena housing the Republican National Convention said a 4 p.m. Thursday hearing was delayed because the court still hadn’t received charging documents.

Lawyers with the Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP said those under arrest should be charged or immediately released.

A message was left with Cleveland city officials seeking comment.

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4 p.m.

Police officers are separating protest groups gathered in Cleveland’s downtown Public Square.

Police were keeping people separated Thursday as debates broke out across the square, with participants including anarchists, anti-Muslim protesters, members of Bikers for Trump and people describing themselves as pro- and anti-capitalist.

Police have formed a barricade using their bikes between different groups.

The protest is reminiscent of several earlier this week with numerous police officers on hand trying to keep the peace.

Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams was among bike patrol officers on hand.

Earlier Thursday, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said that Cleveland police were doing “an incredible job.”

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2:30 p.m.

An anti-Donald Trump march is underway in Cleveland on the fourth and final day of the Republican National Convention.

The event Thursday afternoon starting at Hope Memorial Bridge was one of two rallies opposing the Republican presidential candidate scheduled for the day.

Dozens of people chanted “Love Trumps Hate” and carried signs that said “Ban All Trumps Not Muslims.”

Numerous police officers were present including some who positioned themselves between the marchers and a few conservative religious counter-protesters

Police say 23 people have been arrested this week, including 18 during a melee near the convention hall Wednesday that started when a protester tried to burn an American flag.

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11:20 a.m.

Bar and restaurant owners in downtown Cleveland say the expected boom in business from the Republican National Convention has been a bust.

Many say business is even worse than in normal weeks.

Cleveland media outlets report that downtown nightspots that have stocked up on liquor and stayed open later are now sending staff home early.

Bar and restaurant owners just blocks from the Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention is being held, say increased security and media coverage of the protests have driven people away.

A lot of downtown offices told their employees to take vacation during the convention or to work from home.

Bar owner Morgan Cavanaugh says all he sees walking past his place are a lot of police officers.

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10:50 a.m.

Members of the Revolutionary Communist Party say no one was on fire as police had claimed when they moved in to make arrests during an American flag burning near the Republican National Convention.

Cleveland police originally said 17 people were arrested Wednesday. Police updated that total Thursday to 18 people.

Police said officers had moved in because a member’s pants had caught on fire.

But a supporter of the Revolutionary Party said at a news conference Thursday morning that police “lied” about people being on fire. Sunsara Taylor says members are being illegally detained to prevent them from protesting. She says the group will hold another protest Thursday.

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12:15 a.m.

Donald Trump opponents are planning more protests outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland as the event reaches it finale.

The anti-Trump forces are planning an afternoon parade and an evening rally Thursday, the day Trump is scheduled to accept the Republican nomination for president.

The four-day convention has been a challenge for police, who have arrested 22 people.

A flag-burning in the streets outside the convention on Wednesday sparked the most turbulent protests of the week and resulted in 17 arrests. Those arrested face charges including inciting violence and felonious assault on a police officer.

Police say two officers were assaulted and suffered minor injuries.

The chaos briefly prevented delegates and members of the media from getting into the Quicken Loans Arena for the evening’s proceedings.

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