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Media Advisory contact: DefendJohnsonOfTvJ@gmail.com
June 11, 2019


City of Cleveland pays $225K to Gregory Johnson who burned the American flag in protest outside 2016 Republican National Convention as Trump was nominated.

Johnson defendant in the landmark 1989 Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson which determined flag-burning protected speech.

Gregory ‘Joey’ Johnson available for interview


Johnson and 15 members of the Revolution Club were arrested and fought charges for more than a year after the RNC before charges were dropped against everyone arrested.

Johnson stated, “This settlement of almost 1/4 million dollars speaks much louder than the City of Cleveland’s denials of liability. The city settled this case because they knew our arrests and prosecution were an assault on a Supreme Court precedent that I won 30 years ago—burning the American flag in protest is a form of constitutionally protected speech critical of the government, and they did not want to have all this come out in a trial.

What we did in burning the flag outside the Republican National Convention in 2016 was not only our right—it was the righteous thing to do. I burned the flag at the RNC because it is wrong to close our eyes to the history of genocide and slavery; imperialist wars, invasions and occupations, the coups and torture—all the atrocities the U.S. has committed here and around the world.” (Complete statement)

Johnson was represented in the civil case by Cleveland civil rights attorney, Subodh Chandra. Johnson’s lead counsel said, “Instead of protecting RNC protestors’ constitutional rights, Cleveland police stalked them, literally extinguished their speech rights, and then arrested and prosecuted them—violating 30-year-old Supreme Court precedent taught to school children.”

Attorney Jacqueline Greene, co-coordinator of the Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild described how over 40 lawyers from the NLG, from the Cleveland branch of the NAACP, and from private practice worked hard for over a year to defend against the sham prosecution of Joey Johnson and the RNC 16. Jacqueline stated:

“And as we stand here today, it’s clear that the charges against the RNC 16, including Joey Johnson, were politically motivated. The Ohio Chapter of the NLG stands with movement workers, activists, and demonstrators, who exercise their constitutionally protected rights, and remains committed to defending those who are falsely charged for exercising those rights, as Joey was. Cracking down on people who express dissent is an egregious attack on democracy that cannot be tolerated. This settlement in Joey Johnson’s case represents a clear acknowledgement that the arrests, jailing and prosecution of the RNC 16 were illegal.

“The Ohio NLG congratulates Joey Johnson and thanks him and his attorneys and all of the RNC 16 for their dedication and hard work in holding the city of Cleveland accountable.”

More media coverage:




Just before arresting Mr. Johnson, Cleveland police boasted on Twitter that they anticipated violating his rights:


Chief Calvin Williams: "They burned, or attempt[ed] to burn, an American flag, which is their right, but in doing so, the individual had actually lit the flag, lit himself on fire, and as we're trying to put him out, and he's trying to push my officer away, he actually got a couple other people lit on fire, which we tried to put out too..." Williams's claims were false.

Stills of video footage prove Mr. Johnson was not on fire when police began literally extinguishing his constitutionally protected speech.

Mr. Johnson had space around him and was not on fire when Cleveland police started dousing his free-speech rights. And later clips show neither he nor his clothes were burned.



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