Man arrested during GOP convention sues city, policeJanuary 11, 2018 11:01pm

CLEVELAND (AP) — A man whose 1989 Supreme Court case affirmed flag burning as protected speech sued the city of Cleveland on Thursday, along with police officers and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, for their roles in his arrest when he tried to burn a flag at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

The lawsuit claims Cleveland police officers immediately used fire extinguishers and took Gregory Lee Johnson to the ground after officers broke through a "safety circle" of fellow protesters when he set fire to the American flag in July 2016 in a free speech zone convention at the convention in Cleveland.

"They literally extinguished his speech," the lawsuit says.

Johnson was jailed and charged with misdemeanor assault after two associates of Jones, host of the Infowars radio program, told police they were burned after the flag was set on fire, a claim the lawsuit says was never proven. The associates bragged on a video recorded in a bar and posted to YouTube afterward that they'd punched and kicked Johnson.

Johnson and his attorneys said there's no evidence anyone was burned that day.

Body camera footage of the flag burning recorded by the associates and a flash drive containing their written statements were given to police and subsequently lost, attorney Subodh Chandra said.

Fifteen other protesters were arrested and charged with crimes. Prosecutors withdrew the charge against the 61-year-old Johnson, of San Francisco, last January. Charges against the other protesters were later dropped as well.

Defendants named in the lawsuit include Cleveland Safety Director Michael McGrath, Police Chief Calvin Williams, the two officers who arrested Johnson, Jones and his two associates. The lawsuit claims the city engaged in First Amendment retaliation against Johnson, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution.

Johnson said he has burned dozens of flags during his years of protesting against the U.S. government and has only been arrested twice — at the Republican National Convention in Dallas in 1984 and during the same convention decades later in Cleveland.

His 1984 arrest and conviction resulted in the Supreme Court decision that invalidated state laws against desecration of the American flag.

"We had a right to protest, and we were right to do it," Johnson said Thursday.

Officials for Cleveland and Infowars did not reply to emails seeking comment.

Attorney Patrick Kabat said Cleveland police engaged in an "act of political suppression" when they arrested Johnson.

Johnson had announced beforehand where and when he intended to burn a flag. Minutes before the scheduled attempt, the Cleveland Police Department posted on its Twitter account a photo of Cleveland firefighters standing by with the caption, "May be flag burning ... Cleveland Fire on scene to take care of that!"

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages and attorney fees.

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Lawsuit over officer seizing phone, deleting photo settledA settlement has resolved a lawsuit that accused a Louisiana police officer of violating a woman's constitutional rights by grabbing her cellphone and deleting a photo she took of her son in the officer's vehicle
FILE - This Oct. 4, 2017, file photo provided by the National Press Club shows Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez Soto. Advocates for the award-winning journalist trying to win asylum in the United States because he says he received death threats in Mexico accused U.S. immigration officials Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, of unjustly holding him in detention based on a disputed 1999 incident. (Noel St. John/The National Press Club via AP, File)
Lawyer: ICE unjustly holding award-winning Mexican reporter
Teen pleads guilty in shooting in Facebook feud over boyA teenager accused of fatally shooting another teen in a Facebook feud over a boy has pleaded guilty in juvenile court to first-degree murder
Supreme Court puts order to redraw N. Carolina maps on holdThe U.S. Supreme Court has delayed a lower-court order that would have forced North Carolina Republican lawmakers to redraw the state's congressional districts by next week because of excessive partisan bias in current lines
This undated booking photo released by the Waldo County Jail in Maine shows Brian Fogg, who's accused of punching himself in the face to avoid a sobriety breath test. Fogg, who's free on bail, was charged in Belfast, Maine, with drunken driving, falsifying physical evidence and criminal mischief. (Waldo County Jail via AP)
This week in odd news: Airborne car, the umbrella lockdown
FILE - In this July 23, 2016 file photo people gather to mourn with flower tributes near to the Olympia shopping center where a shooting took place leaving nine people dead the day before in Munich, Germany. A man who sold the pistol used by a teenager in the deadly 2016 shooting rampage in Munich has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and other offenses and sentenced to seven years in prison, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, file)
Seller of pistol used in Munich rampage sentenced to 7 years
This component is currently unavailable.
AdChoices

Related Searches

Related Searches

AdChoices