CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Violating someone’s right to burn the American flag just cost the city of Cleveland $225,000.
The ruling dates back to the 2016 Republican National Convention, when a group of protesters wanted to display their opposition to then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Protesters were in the fenced off area of East 4th Street and Prospect Avenue when Gregory Johnson lit an American flag on fire. Police moved in to put out the flames, which, they said, burned several people.
Johnson’s attorney, Subodh Chandra, said police sprayed water on the flag from the start and that the flames didn’t hurt anyone.
Johnson said video and still pictures from that day prove he posed no threat to anyone. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that flag burning is constitutional.
“Cleveland police, along with other state and federal agencies launched an unjust, vicious police assault to break up our protest," said Johnson. “I was put in a choke hold and dragged to the ground, others were knocked down.”All together, 16 Revolution Club members and other protesters were brutally arrested, dragged off to jail and held for more than 24 hours until the RNC was over.”
Here’s part of the statement the city sent to 19 News: “The settlement of the claims alleged by Gregory Johnson relating to the flag burning incident at the RNC Convention was funded entirely by the City’s liability insurance policy, and did not involve the expenditure of any city funds. The City of Cleveland has denied and continues to deny any liability.”
Johnson, and his attorney, said that despite the award the city needs to admit its culpability and be held accountable.