14 Protesters Continue to Fight City on RNC Flag-Burning Charges


The 14 protesters who were arrested during a flag-burning demonstration on the third day of the RNC are asking that the charges be dropped this week. Most of the protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing official business.

By all accounts, a contained flag-burning event was announced and seemingly, tacitly supported by law enforcement. (The event was allowed to begin apparently without interference, and, of course, flag burning has a long history of being backed by the First Amendment.) But the crush of hungry news reporters and curious onlookers caused a frenzy at East Fourth and Prospect as soon as the flag was lit by protester Gregory Lee Johnson. Police responded by targeting protesters associated with the flag-burning, most of whom were wearing RevCom shirts or the like. In all, 16 were arrested. 

“The police response to leftist protesters was plainly more forceful and intimidating throughout the entirety of the RNC, in comparison to right-wing protesters exercising their open-carry rights or representing the religious right, for example," Jacqueline Green, co-coordinator of the Ohio NLG, said. "This content-based policing is unconstitutional and utterly unacceptable."

Motions filed today in Cleveland Municipal Court seek the dismissal of all charges on constitutional grounds. 

From the legal filing: "What [video footage] make[s] abundantly clear is that the Defendant and others engaged in political expression did nothing wrong; they were peaceful. Their chanting and sloganeering was not directed towards any individual or group. It also makes clear that the brief chaos that erupted was caused by Cleveland police and other law enforcement officials."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.