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."