The city of Cleveland will pay a $225,000 settlement to Gregory Johnson, the protestor who burned an American flag outside of the 2016 RNC in Cleveland. Johnson had filed a federal lawsuit against Cleveland alleging violations of his First and Fourth Amendment rights stemming from his arrest and prosecution following the demonstration.
Johnson, who was the named party in the landmark 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Texas v Johnson that established flag burning as protected speech, faced a series of misdemeanor and felony counts initially, along with other participants, but Cleveland Municipal Court judge Charles L. Patton dismissed all those charges, citing the U.S. Supreme Court case.
Subodh Chandra, Johnson's attorney, said in a statement: "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 schoolchildren. City leaders have yet to hold officers accountable for lying about Mr. Johnson being on fire and setting others on fire. They're simply defiant and unapologetic about their failure to uphold the rule of constitutional law within Cleveland city limits."
Johnson added: "I burned the flag outside of the 2016 RNC as Trump was nominated because, 'America Was NEVER Great,' and it is wrong to close our eyes to the history of genocide and slavery, wars of empire, invasions and occupations, coups and torture—all the atrocities the U.S. government has committed here and around the world. When Cleveland police unjustly and brutally arrested me and 15 others, they attacked the Supreme Court decision I won 30 years ago holding that flag burning in protest is a powerful form of constitutionally protected speech critical of the government."
The city earlier this year reached a $50,000 settlement with one of the other protestors.