17 August 2016
For immediate release
Contact: 646 450 4701
Thursday August 18 Cleveland hearing on Felony Assault Charges
Joey Johnson & RNC Flag Burners Say Drop Unjust Charges;
Supporters Protest Their Punishment for Political Speech
What: Press Conference
When: Thursday August 18 8:00 am
Where: Justice Center, Lakeside Entrance between Ontario & West 3rd Streets, Cleveland OH
Gregory “Joey” Johnson will meet with press Thursday before a hearing for two men indicted on felonies after their arrest with Johnson and 14 others. He and the “RNC16” burned a U.S. flag on July 20, outside the Republication Convention.
Johnson is a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party, which is led by Bob Avakian. Most of the others arrested are members of the Revolution Club, which is affiliated.
Johnson said today, “I am proud we burned the American flag outside the RNC because, as Bob Avakian says, ‘American Lives are NOT More Important than Other People’s Lives.’ Trump says wants to ‘Make America Great Again’ but America was NEVER great – not during slavery, Jim Crow, the Iraq invasion, the Vietnam War, the internment of Japanese, or today’s era of mass incarceration and war crimes.”
Johnson and the other defendants are calling for all the charges against them to be dropped. They cite the Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson (1989), which ruled that flag-burning is protected political speech. Ironically, it was this same Gregory “Joey” Johnson who won that case after burning the U.S. flag outside the Republican National Convention in Dallas in 1984.
Johnson insists that their arrests were illegal. He argues that the arrests only underline the need for the kind of protest he waged, “Think about it: Cleveland couldn’t get a grand jury to indict the two police who murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice, but they got a grand jury to pile illegitimate charges onto us for peaceful and supposedly protected political protest. One more indication that America is NOT great!”
This case comes at a time when Cleveland is under a federal Consent Decree, by request of its own mayor, for a pattern of excessive force that violates the U.S. Constitution and state laws. Previously, supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party exposed how the Cleveland police lied repeatedly to justify their illegal arrests of Johnson and others.
Johnson says he is actively investigating all legal courses of action the defendants have to protect their rights and the rights of protesters in Cleveland.
Revcom.us, the website of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has posted a “Fact Sheet” on the charges.
Supporters are circulating a statement calling on Cleveland authorities to drop the charges on Johnson and the RNC16.