Contaminated sticker scare at RNC after cops in Cleveland report burning, numbness

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, left, talks with protesters on Wednesday. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, left, talks with protesters on Wednesday. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

CLEVELAND — Cleveland police are warning the public not to accept stickers from strangers after two officers working protests at the Republican National Convention suffered mysterious skin irritations.

“If you’ve received a sticker from someone you that you don’t know, that you stuck on your skin, we advise that you remove it and wash the area with soap and water,” Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia, a police spokeswoman said Thursday night.

Two officers — a Georgia state trooper and a Cleveland policeman — received medical treatment after suffering skin burns and numbness while controlling crowds at the city’s public square outside the RNC.

The Georgia state trooper, one of hundreds of officers from around the country working in Cleveland during the convention, reported his injury after receiving a yellow sticker from a protestor.

“We’re still investigating the context in which the sticker came in contact with him,” Ciaccia said. “But there was no assault or anything like that that occurred with it.”

The Cleveland officer reported similar symptoms a short time later, but apparently didn’t recall being given a sticker. Both officers were treated at nearby medical tents and did not require hospitalization.

“For right now the officers are OK,” the sergeant said.

A man carrying some of the stickers was later apprehended and questioned by the FBI. His stickers were sent to a lab for testing. According to radio traffic, police were planning to charge the unidentified suspect with assaulting a police officer, but Ciaccia said no charges have yet been filed.

“Whether or not this is all connected, we’re not sure,” she said.

According police scanner communications, California and South Carolina troopers also reported that protesters were believed to be trying to jab officers with syringes.

“We did not have any officers injured by needles or syringes,” Ciaccia said at the evening news conference.

But police did, out of caution, immediately add syringes to the list of prohibited items for the RNC, the sergeant said.

As of Thursday night, 23 people have been arrested this week on various charges related to protests near the convention, police said.

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