21 August 2016
for immediate release
Contact: 646 450 4701
Monday August 22 Cleveland hearing
Flag Burner Gregory “Joey” Johnson Demands Prosecution Drop Charges
Johnson states Cleveland authorities are collaborating with right-wing media in unlawful arrest and assault of him and 16 other protesters for constitutionally protected flag-burning outside Republican National Convention
What: Press Conference following hearing
When: Monday August 22 Hearing 8:30 am
Where: 15th Floor Room C, Justice Center, 1200 Ontario, Cleveland
Gregory “Joey” Johnson said today that “Cleveland police and prosecutors are collaborating with so-called ‘reporters’ from the right-wing conspiratorialist and Trump supporting website Infowars to prosecute him and others on assault charges.”
Johnson states police unlawfully arrested and unlawfully assaulted him and 15 others for what the U.S. Supreme Court had already determined is constitutionally protected speech, the burning of the American flag in protest. In fact, it was Johnson’s arrest for burning the flag at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas that culminated in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1989 decided in Johnson’s favor.
Johnson stated, “The police in Cleveland could not charge with me flag-burning so they charged me with a bogus charge of assault on these Infowars reactionaries.”
In a video posted July 20, 2016 on a website run by Alex Jones, which has been in the possession of prosecutors for two weeks, the “reporters” describe assaulting Johnson on July 20 in a violent effort to stop him from burning the flag: “We ripped the guy’s [Gregory Johnson] shirt off and just punched him and kicked him man…we just did everything we could.”
Johnson stated, “Understand this, the alleged victims of the assault I am charged with have stated publicly that they consciously set out to prevent me from burning the flag — a legally protected form of speech — and that their very presence in the area was to accomplish that which is an illegal act on their part. They bragged that they committed assault and battery on me, including tearing my shirt.”
The RNC16 (overwhelmingly Revolution Club members arrested at the flag burning) are facing serious charges and possible jail time, with many of them having to travel to Cleveland from around the U.S. for brief court appearances. Johnson and his supporters are demanding that the charges against him and the RNC 16 be dismissed immediately.
Johnson stated he is going to file a civil suit against the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Police Department and take them to court.
Johnson is a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party, led by Bob Avakian, said “We burned the flag to protest the ugly America Number 1 chauvinism that was emanating out of the convention. The arrests and prosecution of the RNC16 are attempts to suppress political dissent, at the same time people across the country are defiantly stepping out, from Baton Rouge to Milwaukee, in protest when the police kill people under color of authority.” Johnson stated, “America has NEVER been great. What is so great about unending police terror, and mass incarceration and wars for empire? We need to overthrow the system, not vote for it.”
Revcom.us, the website of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has posted a “Fact Sheet” on the charges.