Defendant in SCOTUS case Texas v. Johnson establishing flag burning as protected speech; follower of Revolutionary Communist leader Bob Avakian
Gregory “Joey” Johnson is a follower of Bob Avakian, leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and is a member of The Revolution Club.
He is the "Johnson" of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson (1989) which established that burning the flag is protected speech. For protesting the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, when Ronald Reagan was nominated for a second presidential term, he was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a one-year prison term and $2,000 fine for burning a U.S. flag.
A 5-year legal battle culminated at the Supreme Court, where he was represented by the famed radical lawyer William Kunstler and the Center for Constitutional Rights. The fight was not only in the courtroom but for public opinion, exposing the flag as a symbol of American imperialism, and making clear that if the government is allowed to criminalize the burning of the flag, it will be a dangerous attack on political speech and move toward forced patriotism. The decision in his favor was a rare victory for protection of free speech. Johnson appears in the documentary William Kunstler, Disturbing the Universe.
He has been an active fighter for the people for decades. He was in Los Angeles during the 1992 Rebellion after the acquittal of LAPD officers for the beating of Rodney King, fighting to stop police terror, and active in condemning CIA financing of weapons for U.S. backed Contras in Nicarauga with profits from crack cocaine sold in U.S.cities. He appears in the documentary Freeway: Crack in the System.
Joey was in Sanford, Florida in 2012 to protest the murder of Trayvon Martin, and the acquittal of vigilante George Zimmerman, the killer. Johnson traveled to Ferguson, Missouri the day after the murder of 18 year-old Black teenager Michael Brown by police, where he stood with the people rising up against the Brown's murder and was among the more than 200 people arrested by police over the course of the two week rebellion. He helped organize RiseUpOctober STOP Police Terror national protests in 2015.
He was arrested in Cleveland July 20, 2016 with 16 others at a protest of “Make America First” outside the Republican National Convention, when he burned a U.S. Flag, and is fighting charges of assault on two “reporters,” who were not journalists at all, but Trump supporters who intended to prevent the flag burning because it was “un-American."