Cleveland Flag Burners Awarded $650,000 For Being Arrested
City of Cleveland Pays $650,000 to 13 people wrongly arrested after American flag burned in protest outside 2016 Republican National Convention as Trump was nominated
Total settlements paid out by the City of Cleveland to protesters arrested after burning of American flag outside 2016 RNC have now reached close to 1 million dollars ($925,000).
This current round of settlements is in addition to $225,000 Cleveland paid out last June to Gregory “Joey“ Johnson of the landmark 1989 Supreme Court case, Texas v Johnson which established flag burning in protest as constitutionally protected speech. Another arrested protester previously received a $50,000 settlement.
Plaintiff Rafael Kadaris stated, “Over three years ago we called out the fascism of Donald Trump, which is now on full display, from the cries of children in cages to the blood on the streets of El Paso. When do YOU say enough is enough? When we burned the American flag at the RNC we showed the world that there is a revolutionary force and leadership organizing to bring this whole rotten system down and bring a much better world into being. I plan to use my settlement money to advance that cause.”
Gregory “Joey“ Johnson was also charged for burning the American flag on Pennsylvania Avenue, in front of the White House, during Trump’s July 4th “Salute to America” in a protest called “Imagine a World Without America.” Charges in the July 4th case were dismissed on September 10, 2019.
Johnson stated he burned the flag in Cleveland, “As Trump was delivering his fascist message of white supremacy, ‘law and order,’ scapegoating of immigrants, disgusting misogyny, and naked ‘America First’ chauvinism to the convention—outside, up against all this, the Revolution Club linked arms while I stood in the middle of the circle and lit the red, white and blue rag of imperialism on fire. Our message to the world— America was NEVER great! We Need to Overthrow this System.”
See MSNBC video: Revolution Club protests at RNC
These latest settlements confirm loudly what those arrested insisted all along: that the city of Cleveland’s police department and other law enforcement agencies violated the constitutional rights of the demonstrators. The amount of the settlements drowns out pro-forma statements from city officials that they “do not admit” to any wrong doing. Plaintiffs maintained that the city settled these cases
because they knew the arrests and prosecutions was an assault on the Supreme Court precedent that Johnson won 30 years ago and were afraid to have all this come out in trials.
The case of the RNC16 stemmed from a demonstration held as Trump was being nominated by the Republican National Convention as its presidential candidate. Cleveland police along with other state and federal agencies launched an unjust, vicious police assault to break up the protest. Altogether 16 Revolution Club members and other protesters were brutally arrested, dragged off to jail, and held for 24 hours until the RNC was over. Two protesters were hit with multiple felony charges. The police repeatedly lied to the media—changing their story about why the protestors were arrested—in spite of videos that show clearly it was the police that assaulted and endangered the protesters.
After a year-long legal and political battle and after an evidentiary hearing that put Cleveland’s police chief Williams on the stand, Judge Charles Patton dismissed the charges against 12 of the protesters noting in his ruling, “As in Johnson [Texas v Johnson], the prosecution in these cases, sub judice, seeks to sanction the defendants conduct under the disorderly conduct laws.” (Charges against 4 other defendants were dropped.)
The plaintiffs stated their appreciation for the attorneys who brought this suit from The Chandra Law Firm and the 40 volunteer attorneys who prevailed against the criminal charges facing the RNC 16. The latter were organized by the National Lawyers Guild in Ohio, (coordinated by Jacqueline Green and Sarah Gelsomino), and the NAACP.