RNC Flag Burning Defendants File for Dismissal of Charges Their Attorneys Call “Unconstitutional” and “Unacceptable”
Protesters arrested July 20 outside the Republican convention as a flag was burned filed Wednesday to dismiss criminal misdemeanor charges on constitutional grounds. At the protest, organized by The Revolution Club, Gregory “Joey” Johnson, who fought and won the 1989 Supreme Court decision that it is legal to burn the U.S. flag, burned a flag and was arrested with 15 others.
Today their attorneys detailed the “content-based policing” they are discovering. They said, “Flag burning is protected free speech activity. The City of Cleveland had a duty to protect the rights of these protesters, including their right to burn the flag – but instead the Cleveland Police violated their constitutional rights and threw them in jail,” said Michael Nelson, president of the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP and one of the attorneys who filed motions to dismiss on behalf of the RNC protesters.
More than 40 attorneys with the NAACP and the Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and other affiliated lawyers have “volunteered to defend these protesters against the criminal charges on a pro bono basis,” the group said.
Raphael Kadaris, a defendant arrested July 20 and profiled by MSNBC, is available for interviews.
The defendants, collectively known as the RNC16, released this statement:
On July 20, 2016, the theme inside the Republican National Convention was “Make America #1 Again.” Outside, with the whole world watching, Gregory “Joey” Johnson and members of the Revolution Club and other protestors gathered to burn the American flag. Johnson said “America First? It’s always BEEN first: at genocide, at slavery, exploitation, destruction of the environment, torture, coup d’états, invasions … we’re standing here with the people of the world today.”
Joey had to cut short what he was saying over the bullhorn because the police were already assaulting us, trying to force their way into our circle of protest to stop an act of constitutionally protected speech – the Supreme Court decision upholding this even bears his name!
The police assaulted us! Everyone can see this on the videos that are widely available. Yet besides all the people scooped up and charged with misdemeanors, there are also two Revolution Club members who were charged with felonies for allegedly assaulting the police AFTER the police assaulted a peaceful protest. The prosecutor took it to a grand jury and increased the felony charges – while in Cleveland, the cop who murdered Tamir Rice was not even indicted.
Joey and another defendant are charged with assaulting a member of the media when they supposedly got burned by the flag. These fake ass reporters were Alex Jones’ Infowars operatives who actually brag on video about assaulting Joey and doing everything they could to stop the flag burning as unAmerican! The fact that these charges have not been dismissed shows this is a vindictive and politically motivated prosecution.
We uphold the right to burn the flag. We also want to stress that it was absolutely RIGHT to burn the flag. The fascist Trump says “Make America Great Again.” Clinton says it’s already great. We were out there to cut through the BS and get out the truth by burning the American flag – America has NEVER been great!
For days during the RNC, the Revolution Club was in the streets of Cleveland hammering home this point: Was America great when it carried out genocide of Native Americans? Was America great when it kidnapped and enslaved Africans? Was America great during a century of Jim Crow segregation and lynch-mob terror? Is it great right NOW when its police are terrorizing, brutalizing and gunning down Black and Brown people and the murderers never go to jail?! Is America great right NOW as the flag flies over hundreds of ICE detention facilities housing thousands of immigrants? Our message was unmistakable – the flag is the brand for a global network of exploitation and wealth extraction and a military armada, CIA black sites and mass graves from My Lai to Fallujah.
Gregory “Joey” Johnson and the Revolution Club are fighting for a radically different future.We are a disciplined force with a clear message that we took to the streets of Cleveland “America Was Never Great. We Need to Overthrow this System.”
IT was RIGHT to burn that filthy rag.
We demand the charges be dropped immediately against all the protestors arrested that day at the RNC.