Gregory Lee Johnson Civil Rights Movement Essay

During the 1984 National Convention of the Republican Party in Dallas, Texas, President Ronald Reagan and President George H. W Bush ran for reelection. The convention held August 20 to August 23, 1984. Outside the Republican National Convention, Gregory Lee Johnson lit fire to an American Flag. Gregory Lee Johnson was protesting with the,” Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade”.

Gregory Lee Johnson along with approximately one hundred more protested and vandalized property and buildings at the Republican National Convention because he and the other protesters did not agree with the policies of the Ronald Reagan Administration, also known as Reaganomics. Gregory Lee Johnson was born on January 1st, 1956. In Richmond, Indiana. Gregory Johnson’s father spent majority of his childhood in jail. So gregory went without a father figure for a while. Gregory Lee Johnson’s mother was a big supporter of the American Civil Rights Movement.

Gregory Lee Johnson’s mother eventually got married to a staff sergeant in the United States military. When Gregory Lee Johnson grew up in Richmond, Indiana he lived in a poor, racially mixed neighborhood. Gregory lee Johnson’s family was never really wealthy. Later on Gregory Lee Johnson moved with his mother and stepfather to a military base in West Germany. Gregory Lee Johnson moved back to the United States of America in the year of 1971. Gregory lee Johnson dropped out of highschool in the year of 1973. In 1976 Gregory Lee Johnson moved to Tampa, Florida. There he joined the “Revolutionary Communist Youth

Brigade”, where he travelled around the United States and marched and protested at events, like the 1984 Republican National Convention. At this Republican National Convention in 1984, the protestors marched yelling chants, vandalizing properties and businesses by spray painting on the buildings and breaking glass and kicking surrounding objects. Gregory Lee Johnson did not participate in any of the vandalizing that the other protesters were doing, but when a another protester handed Gregory Lee Johnson a American Flag he took the American Flag and lit a flame to it and disrespectfully burnt it.

When Gregory Lee Johnson was burning the American Flag he chanted political slogans such as; “Reagan, Mondale which will it be? Either one means World War III;” “Ronald Reagan, killer of the hour, Perfect example of U. S. power;” and “red, white and blue, we spit on you, you stand for plunder, you will go under. Gregory Lee Johnson did not put any being in any danger by doing this act. Gregory Lee Johnson was just expressing his feelings about Ronald Reagan and his administration.

After the act of burning the American Flag, Gregory Lee Johnson was arrested in front of where the 1984 Republican National Convention was being held in Dallas, Texas. Gregory Lee Johnson was charged with desecration of venerated object, and violating a Texas statue. Gregory Lee Johnson was sentenced to one year in prison and he was fined two thousand dollars. Ronald Reagan’s policies were conservative economic values, starting with the implementation of supply side economic policies. These got the nickname of,” Reaganomics”. Other political opponents called them “voodoo” economics. Gregory Lee Johnson was obviously not a big fan of?

Reaganomics. It was never stated anywhere, but Gregory Lee Johnson was most likely a communist. Gregory Lee Johnson was an activist because of the protesting he took a part in around the United States of America, and that’s why he protested at the Republican National Convention in 1984. In the United States of America the U. S. flag is considered sacred to the point of extreme for some people you could say. Which you can not really blame. In my opinion you should respect a nation’s flag always no matter what, even if the flag is not your country’s. A flag represents what a nation has done and gone through to to become a nation on its own.

Most nations and countries have went through very hard, tough times to actually call themselves a nation and have their own flag, so that earns respect in my opinion. The United States of America has been through so much trial and tribulations to earn the right to fly our great flag and call ourselves the United States of America. Many of our American soldiers have given their life for our flag that Gregory Lee Johnson decided to disrespect, and I doubt he really knew what he was doing or what it meant to some people.

Now where the court case of “Texas vs. Johnson comes in at is should we as U. S. itizens be able to destroy and do horrible things to our great nation’s flag and things that represent our great country? Some do not think you should, and you should be punished for doing that to our flag or things in that nature, but we as U. S. citizens have first Amendment. The first amendment gives us U. S. citizens the right to religion, freedom of speech, press, and peacefully assemble. So this action that Gregory Lee Johnson did falls under the category of freedom of speech, but personally that should not be tolerated by our country and you should either do some time in jail or pay a fine.

So it sounds really insane that the United States of America lets you disrespect it like that. Some countries would execute you if you protested and burnt their country’s flag like Gregory Lee Johnson did! For instance if Gregory Lee Johnson was in a dangerous communist country at that time, he would most likely mysteriously disappear one day for committing an action like that, but the United States of America lets you. Its called freedom. That is why we are the best country in the world. Now freedom of speech was one of Gregory Lee Johnson’s arguments. Apparently the state of Texas did not think so.

Gregory Lee Johnson was arrested and convicted. Gregory Lee Johnson did not agree with the state of Texas’s decision so Mr. Johnson challenged that and brought it to court. This case made it to the United States Supreme Court. Texas vs. johnson was a rather long court case. After Gregory Lee Johnson appealed the case, Texas asked the United States Supreme Court to hear this court case. William Kunstler and David D. Cole were Gregory Lee Johnson’s lawyers for this case. The United States Supreme Court came down with a mixed (liberal and conservative) 5-4 decision with the majority opinion delivered by William J. Brennan, Jr. nd Justices Marshall, Blackmun, Scalia, and Kennedy joining Brennan.

The United States Supreme Court first questioned if the first amendment was protected by the non speech act, because Gregory Lee Johnson was first charged with flag desecration not spoken communication. Gregory Lee Johnson’s act of burning the American flag was not verbal communication. The United States Supreme Court ruled it as expressive conduct allowing it as the 1st amendment. In the case of Texas vs. Johnson, the United States Supreme Court leaned on Gregory Lee Johnson’s side, stating that this was an act of the first amendment under the United States Constitution.

Gregory Lee Johnson’s charges and fines were dropped. The court case, Texas vs. Johnson closed on June 21, 1989. Shortly after the case of Texas vs. Johnson the United States Congress passed the, Flag Protection Act of 1989. The Flag Protection Act of 1989 rules that the government’s interest in preserving the flag as a United States symbol is not more significant than the individual’s First Amendment right to disrespect the American flag through expressive conduct. Gregory Lee Johnson won the court case of Texas vs. Johnson. He was dropped of everything. Gregory Lee Johnson was protected by the first amendment.