August 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
StopMassIncarceration.net received the following Call from the Revolution Club
Gregory “Joey” Johnson—whose successful battle in the Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson established that burning a U.S. flag in protest is protected speech—says allegations he assaulted two “news reporters” when he burned a flag outside the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 are false. Johnson said that Kimberly Barnett, the Acting Chief Assistant Prosecutor, Criminal Division, has no choice but to withdraw the charges of assault filed against him.
Joey Johnson with the support of the Revolution Club burned the American flag outside the Republican National Convention to protest the toxic chauvinism and reactionary ideas of all stripes surrounding Trump’s nomination.
Johnson with the support of the Revolution Club burned the American flag outside the Republican National Convention to protest the toxic chauvinism and reactionary ideas of all stripes surrounding Trump’s nomination. Cleveland police and other law enforcement agencies immediately assaulted the flag-burning, putting Johnson in a chokehold and then brutally arresting 16 others who were staging a peaceful protest.
Johnson stated that prosecutors are concocting a justification, after the fact, for the police assault against himself and other protesters during this flag-burning, because as established by Texas v. Johnson they could not be lawfully arrested or criminally charged for burning the flag.
The prosecution is claiming that Johnson assaulted two reporters who were allegedly burned by the flag embers. It has been confirmed from police reports, that these two “reporters” were not journalists at all, but Trump supporters who intended to prevent the flag burning because it was “un-American.”
In a video posted July 20, 2016 by Infowars, a website run by Alex Jones, the “reporters” brag about assaulting Johnson 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.”
All this shows that the charges against Johnson are without factual foundation. The charges stem from allegations by people who by their own admission set out to prevent what is supposed to be legally protected speech, which is an illegal act on their part. On top of which they brag about committing assault and battery on Johnson, another illegal act. Yet it is Johnson who is charged with assaulting these two!
Now, Johnson and the RNC16 (overwhelmingly Revolution Club members arrested at the flag burning) are facing serious charges. Johnson and his supporters are demanding that the charges against him and the RNC 16 be dismissed immediately.
Johnson’s arrest for another flag-burning protest, at the 1984 Republican National Convention, led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Texas v. Johnson decision in 1989, when the Court ruled that burning the flag in protest constitutes speech protected by the First Amendment. It is well established legally that someone who disagrees with the content of such speech cannot lawfully prevent this speech.
Supporters are circulating a statement calling on Cleveland authorities to drop the charges on Johnson and the RNC 16.