Trump fans in violent clashes with communists after American flag burned outside White House during 4th of July celebrations

MAGA supporters include members of far-right chauvinistic 'Proud Boys' movement

Conrad Duncan
Friday 05 July 2019 10:58 BST
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Two people have been arrested after a violent clash between Trump supporters and a group of communists following a flag burning in front of the White House yesterday.

Protesters wearing t-shirts of Bob Avakian, chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, burned the American flag while chanting “America was never great” before fighting with counter-protesters wearing MAGA hats, according to USA Today.

The arrests came about two hours before Donald Trump paid tribute to the US military during a speech for his “Salute to America” event for Fourth of July.

The US Secret Service said one person was arrested for felony assault on a police officer and malicious burning, while the other was arrested for hindering a police investigation and resisting arrest.

Some of the pro-Trump counter-protesters identified themselves as members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group whose members describe themselves as “western chauvinists”.

Two uniformed Secret Service officers also suffered minor injuries while attempting to make the arrests.

Although it is not illegal to burn a US flag, the Secret Service said the burning occurred beyond the limits of a permit issued by the National Park Service.

One of the arrested flag burners is believed to be Gregory “Joey” Johnson, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party who won a court case in 1989 arguing that flag burning was protected speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Speaking on 3 July outside the White House, Mr Johnson said: “[The US flag] is a symbol of empire, it’s a symbol of oppression, it’s a symbol of slavery, it’s a symbol of genocide, it’s a symbol of invasion, it’s a symbol of occupation, it’s a symbol of torture. This rag of empire deserves to be burned.”

Mr Trump has been accused of wasting money with the Salute to America event and politicising the Fourth of July celebration ahead of his 2020 presidential campaign.

The National Park Service diverted nearly $2.5m (£2m) in entrance and recreation fees intended for improving parks to cover costs for the event, according to the Washington Post.

However, the full cost of the event, which was open to the public free of charge, has not been revealed.

Despite the clashes earlier in the day, demonstrations at the Lincoln Memorial were largely peaceful.

Protesters in Washington brought out the inflatable “Trump baby blimp”, last seen during Trump protests in London, and a 16-foot tall robot depicting Mr Trump sitting on golden toilet.

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