Several arrested, American flag lit on fire during Charlotte protests on first day of RNC

Several arrested, American flag lit on fire during Charlotte protests on first day of RNC
WBTV had a crew at the protest when an American flag was lit on fire, leading to a physical confrontation with police and protesters. It appears officers ran their bikes into the crowd at one point. (Source: Bria Bell/WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Hundreds of protesters gathered in the Charlotte streets Monday night, demonstrating against the first night of the Republican National Convention, which was in town only a few hours earlier.

This was the fourth day of protests in the Queen City aimed at the RNC. Protests began Friday night and carried on through the weekend.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said multiple people have been arrested and pepper spray was deployed for the third night in a row.

Four protesters were arrested after officers attempted to arrest a demonstrator police say tried to cut down a flag from outside of police headquarters. Two of the suspects were taken to the hospital with injuries, according to police.

WBTV had a crew at the protest when an American flag was lit on fire, leading to a physical confrontation with police and protesters. It appears officers ran their bikes into the crowd at one point.

According to police, a CMPD officer was pushed off his bicycle as he attempted to extinguish a fire that was set by protesters.

Charlotte City Councilman Braxton Winston, however, replied to that tweet Monday night, disagreeing with what CMPD says happened.

“This is a lie,” Winston tweeted.

Monday night’s protests included chants and and sign-carrying, with protesters sometimes stopping traffic.

WBTV reporters watched as protesters marched to South End with chants of “Black people used to live here” in reference to the area’s history of gentrification. The marching turned back toward uptown.

Just after 10 p.m., CMPD tweeted that protesters were “obstructing roads with construction material and debris in South End.” CMPD said officers were working to keep the community safe while protecting the protesters’ free speech.

WBTV had crews at the protests, observing an increased police presence and a sense of intensity in some of the protest areas.

Protesters initially gathered at Marshall Park Monday afternoon shortly after the Charlotte portion of the RNC ended.

The organized rally, named, “Resist RNC 2020,″ was scheduled for four hours Monday at Marshall Park. The event, which had nearly 200 people, was scheduled to end around 8 p.m.

Protesters and counter-protesters were observed in shouting matches at times before Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers stepped in to separate the two groups. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police tweeted that protesters began blocking traffic on 3rd Street around 5:30 p.m. Officers say they were attempting to clear the road and keep the community safe.

According to the Charlotte Observer, bicycle officers in Marshall Park surrounded counter-protesters carrying large signs exhorting viewers to “bless God.” One person stood nose-to-nose with a Black officer protecting the counter-protesters, the Observer reported.

The Observer reported that “demonstrators on both sides obstructed some traffic in front of the park. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers did a “move back” maneuver. Pepper spray was deployed when an officer grabbed the arm of a protester, who then jerked away. The spray left some people coughing and spitting onto the grass.”

CMPD later tweeted that officers deployed pepper spray on a protester who was choking a woman and assaulted an officer. The protester was arrested and charged with assault.

A witness provided video to WBTV showing the moments when pepper spray was deployed.

Multiple arrests were made on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights as demonstrators chanted, carried signs and rallied against the RNC.

The Republican National Convention’s main business, including the roll call nomination of President Trump and Vice President Pence, took place at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Monday’s convention proceedings were attended by six delegates from each state and territory, amounting to 336 delegates total.

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