Anti-Trump Protesters Who Burned U.S. Flag Paid Nearly $1m by Cleveland Over Wrongful Arrests

The city of Cleveland has handed out another round of payments to a group of protesters who were wrongfully arrested for staging a flag-burning protest in 2016 against the Republican presidential nomination of Donald Trump.

On 25 September, 12 activists each received $50,000 from the city after the charges brought against them during following the protest outside the 2016 Republican National Convention were dropped.

In total, 16 people were arrested over the flag-burning protest, including Gregory "Joey" Johnson, who famously successfully argued the act of flag burning is protected by the First Amendment after he was arrested for setting fire to one outside the 1984 Republican convention.

Johnson had received a $225,000 settlement from the Ohio city in June, with two other protesters who had their charges dropped also receiving $50,000 each in September and April of this year after filing federal civil-rights lawsuits.

Following the latest round of payments, the protesters have now received a total of $925,000 from the city.

The group argued that as the flag was lit outside the RNC convention on June 20, 2016, Cleveland Police officers unjustifiably extinguished the flames and therefore restricted their right to Free Speech. Officers claimed they put out the flag as Johnson's clothes had accidentally caught fire.

Officers then arrested Johnson and the other members of the Revolution Club by force, claiming the protesters began violently resisting. Attorney Subodh Chandra, of the Chandra Law Firm, posted video footage earlier this year which he said disproves the police's versions of events.

The protesters were held for more than 24 hours by police before charges were filed against them. In October 2017, Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Charles Patton dismissed the cases against 12 of defendants, stating that they were engaging in constitutionally protected speech, reported Cleveland.com.

The remaining four protesters had already had their charges dropped.

In a statement following the latest round of payouts, Johnson said: "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."

Chandra, lead counsel for the protesters, added: "This massive payout of $925,000 is a stain on the integrity of the officers involved, Cleveland's police division, and Cleveland itself. Officials' blatant disregard for the Constitution at the 2016 RNC did not make us safer, but rather taught us to fear censorship and lawlessness from the very people sworn to protect our rights."

Johnson was also among those who were arrested for taking part in a flag burning protest in front of the White House ahead of President Donald Trump's "Salute to America" speech in July.

The charges against him were later dropped in September.

flag burning
The flag-burning protetsers have recieved nearly $1 million in payouts following their wrongful arrests in 2016. Chandra Law Firm
Anti-Trump Protesters Who Burned U.S. Flag Paid Nearly $1m by Cleveland Over Wrongful Arrests | U.S.
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