Multiple protesters were arrested in front of the White House on Thursday after an American flag was set ablaze in protest to President Trump’s “Salute to America” event, scheduled to take place later in the evening.
While it is unclear who or what group burnt the flag, video from Washington shows a number of protesters forming in a circle before the flag goes up in flames. At least three people were detained by the Secret Service.
The burning was followed by scuffles between left-wing activists and supporters of Trump.
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A group called the Revolution Club had earlier sent out a press release on Wednesday announcing its intent to burn an American flag.
“Tomorrow on the Fourth of July, I am going to be [burning the American flag] right here … in front of the White House,” Gregory “Joey” Johnson, a member of the Revolution Club, said during a Wednesday press conference. “I’m going to be speaking to the people of the world letting them know that there are people inside the borders of this country who stand with the people of the world.”
Besides the flag burning, Washington police and District of Colombia National Guard troops have had their hands full this Fourth of July dealing with the influx of both protesters and revelers in town for Trump’s extravaganza.
In the shadow of the Washington Monument, the anti-war organization Codepink erected a 20-foot tall “Trump baby” balloon to protest what it called the president’s co-opting of Independence Day.
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“We think that he is making this about himself and it’s really a campaign rally,” said Medea Benjamin, the organization’s co-director. “We think that he’s a big baby. … He’s erratic, he’s prone to tantrums, he doesn’t understand the consequences of his actions. And so this is a great symbol of how we feel about our president.”
The balloon remained tied down at the Mall because park officials restricted the group’s permission to move it or fill it with helium, Benjamin said.
Protesters also handed out small Trump-baby balloons on sticks. Molly King of La Porte, Ind., a 13-year-old Trump supporter in sunglasses and a “Make America Great Again” hat, happily came away with one.
“They’re making a big stink about it but it’s actually pretty cute,” she said. “I mean, why not love your president as you’d love a baby?”
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A small crowd gathered to take pictures with the big balloon, which drew Trump supporters and detractors.
“Even though everybody has different opinions,” said Kevin Malton, a Trump supporter from Middlesboro, Ky., “everybody’s getting along.”
But Daniela Guray, a 19-year-old from Chicago who held a “Dump Trump” sign, said she was subjected to a racial epithet while walking along the Constitution Avenue parade route and told to go home.
She said she did not come to the Mall to protest but ended up doing so. “I started seeing all the tanks with all the protests and that’s when I said, ‘Wait, this is not an actual Fourth of July,'” she said. “Trump is making it his day rather than the Fourth of July.”
Fox News’ Kellianne Jones and The Associated Press contributed to this report.