Joey Johnson and the RNC 16 Put the System on Trial in Cleveland

October 3, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


This past July, Donald Chump came to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland with his fascist message of law and order, white supremacy, “build the wall” scapegoating of immigrants, disgusting misogyny, and naked “USA #1” chauvinism. He said he would “make America great again.” But this did NOT go down without a fight. On July 20, the Revolution Club went right up to the gates of their RNC Nazi rally, linked arms in a circle, and then Joey Johnson stood in the middle and announced, “America Number 1? America first? It always has been first: at genocide... at slavery... at exploitation... of destruction of the environment... of torture... of coup d’états... of invasions. We’re standing here with the people of the world today.” Then he lit that bloody red, white, and blue rag on fire. This bold action, and the message behind it, was picked up by national and international media and broadcast to the world: There is a force right here in the belly of the beast with a whole different message: America Was NEVER Great! We Need to OVERTHROW the system!

At a time of deepening divisions and cracks in their system, of growing eruptions against the ongoing epidemic of police murder, this was NOT what the ruling class wanted interrupting the “legitimacy” of their election charade. Despite the fact that burning the U.S. flag is constitutionally protected “freedom of speech” (thanks to the landmark Supreme Court decision Texas v. Johnson), and despite the fact that the same Johnson who fought to win that right is the one who burned the flag this time, this did not stop the pigs from breaking their own laws to brutally assault and arrest Joey Johnson and 15 other members of the Revolution Club! Even before Joey lit the flag, the pigs were attacking the Revolution Club’s protective circle to try to prevent the flag from burning and silence our message. They failed!

But they did succeed at something...

  • in sending the FBI to knock on the doors of known activists and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party in the lead-up to the RNC...
  • in bringing in thousands of cops from all over the country, including thousands of Homeland Security and Secret Service agents, creating an atmosphere of police state intimidation...
  • in brutally assaulting the Revolution Club and blatantly violating our legal right to burn the flag...
  • in concocting one bullshit pretext or another for their outrageous attack—the lie that Joey lit himself on fire, or the “safety” of pro-Trump operatives from Alex Jones’ Infowars, who allegedly got burned even though they admitted in a video that they assaulted Joey in order to prevent the flag burning, and who Joey and one other Rev Club member are now being charged with assaulting!...
  • in initially charging some of us with the nonexistent crimes of “desecrating the flag” and flag “arson”...
  • in bringing a grand jury to add more charges to the two Rev Club members who were already charged with felonies (by the same prosecutor who refused to indict the pigs who murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice!)...

In all this, what did the rulers of this system reveal? That the essence of this society is not a “democracy,” but a thoroughly rotten capitalist-imperialist dictatorship, run by a ruling class that sets the terms and limits of the debate (a fascist monster vs. an imperialist war criminal!), deciding who is a “legitimate” candidate and what is a legitimate issue. And they can talk about “freedom and democracy” all they want, but if they see it in their interests to break their own rules—whether it’s rights that don’t apply to Black people and murder laws that don’t apply to cops, or international war crimes laws that the U.S. breaks with impunity—they will.

But they are NOT all-powerful. They have already been stung by our bold action. And there is a powerful basis to make this illegal and outrageous attack against us boomerang back against them, further exposing the illegitimacy of their system and advancing the movement for revolution. We had a right to do what we did at the RNC... and it was right! The flag burning burst through the suffocating, disgusting atmosphere in Cleveland, and news of it reached tens of millions of people. Since then, others coming from their own perspectives have taken up their own forms of protest. Millions are openly questioning America’s special “greatness” and refusing to salute its symbols. Righteous struggle against police murder of Black people has exploded once again. People have tried all the reform solutions—they don’t work, and they can’t work, because police murder is built into this system.

Now is the time to go on the offensive with this RNC 16 case and let the world know that we are the mighty REVCOMS who burned their fucking flag at the RNC. We are organizing to overthrow this system at the soonest possible time. Our leader is Bob Avakian, the architect of the new synthesis of communism and the most radical and scientific thinker and leader on the planet, who has a strategy for how we can WIN a revolution to bring this monster down once and for all and build up a whole new liberated society.


We are going to meet the counter-revolutionary assaults on the RNC 16 with more revolution. We are going to fight this system in the political arena and in the legal arena. There is lot at stake here, both in terms of this particular case, but also as a test for what we will be facing in the coming storms. We need to defeat these charges, expose their system, and accumulate forces for revolution in the process! We can’t allow them to get away with draining our energies, and resources, playing by their rules and trapped in their criminal INjustice system.

We are putting THEM on trial! Inside and outside the courtroom.

We are putting the system on trial for the towering crimes U.S. imperialism has committed and continues to perpetrate against the people of the world and masses of oppressed people in this country. We are putting them on trial for violating their own laws, undermining Texas v. Johnson, in order to politically suppress and repress the RNC 16 because of our righteous message, and thereby having a “chilling effect” on people’s freedom to express themselves by burning the flag. We are exposing that the so-called “democracy” in this country is democracy for the capitalist-imperialists who exercise dictatorship over the masses.

The RNC 16—the people including Joey Johnson who burned the flag at the Republican National Convention—converged in Cleveland for a People’s Tribunal at the courthouse on Thursday, September 29. We indicted the various pigs and pig agencies responsible; they were subpoenaed and arrived at the court in their full pig regalia... Homeland Security pig, Secret Service pig, FBI pig, Alex Jones Infowar pig, Cleveland Police Chief pig Calvin Williams, Cleveland prosecutor pig Timothy McGinty, and others. They were placed in a pig pen and called up to testify one by one. We prosecuted them using their own words and actions. When all they could do was oink, a pig Latin translator was provided. Joey Johnson gave the closing arguments. The jury listened to all the evidence and then gave their verdict... guilty! And then the RNC 16 once again burned the American rag. We announced our plans to SUE ALL OF THEM FOR THEIR ILLEGAL ACTS AGAINST THE RNC 16!

If you know something about the history and reality of this country, that America never was great, and you support the Revolution Club delivering this message powerfully and dramatically right in front of the RNC... if you think revolution and Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism need to be heard and known—and not silenced or suppressed by the powers that be... if police murder after murder after murder of Black and Brown people makes you sick and you’re feeling like Colin Kaepernick... if you think people should have the right to burn the flag and you don’t want to let them undercut Texas v. Johnson... if you think it was right to burn the flag... JOIN US in demanding: DROP THE CHARGES ON JOEY JOHNSON AND THE RNC 16!



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