Communist Activist Plans to Burn American Flag at Fourth of July Celebration in Washington

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
July 4, 2019 Updated: July 4, 2019

A flag-desecrating communist said he plans to burn the symbol of American nationhood on July 4 in protest against the so-called “whole fascist agenda.”

Gregory “Joey” Johnson, an acolyte of the Revolutionary Communist Party and self-admitted “follower of the revolutionary communist leader Bob Avakian” has vowed to set fire to Old Glory.

“I’m going to be there in D.C.,” Johnson told the Washington Examiner. “That rag of empire and oppression is going to burn.”

Johnson, who recently settled for $225,000 with the city of Cleveland for what he argued was an unlawful arrest for burning an American flag outside of the Republican National Convention in 2016, told USA Today, “I’m going to burn the flag in protest [of Trump’s] whole fascist agenda.”

Police Chief Calvin Williams was cited by as saying that officers intervened in 2016 because Johnson lit himself on fire. Johnson’s attorneys argued this was a pretext to break up the protest and stifle free speech.

The radical activist is also known for his Supreme Court victory in 1989 that struck down state laws in Texas banning the burning of the American flag.

In a post on Twitter, Johnson wrote he and fellow communists plan to enact their protest “within sight of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” at 5 p.m. local time, by burning the flag and asking people to “imagine a world without America.”

Johnson said in a video posted online that he plans to burn the flag “in a way and in a place that will be quite legal but which will unmistakenly challenge and expose your whole fascist regime and agenda.”

America a Target of Communists

But a world without America or a weak America, argues author and speaker Trevor Louden, is one that is ripe for subjugation by communist tyranny.

“If you want to understand where communism’s going,” Louden said in an interview, “where it’s influential, you have to go to the main target. That is America.”

In an editorial for The Epoch Times, Louden argued that communist activists have been advancing a radical revolutionary agenda by many means.

“All of this is for one purpose, the radical socialist transformation of society. This will be accomplished through a combination of elections, mass actions, the systematic infiltration of the institutions, and the harnessing of racial and ethnic minorities (the rainbow) into a new ‘progressive’ majority—all led by the communist movement.”

“When I did a deep study into communism,” Louden added, “it became very apparent that America was the main enemy, the main target of the movement.”

Investigative journalist and expert on communism Joshua Philipp noted: “Communism is a state of moral, spiritual, cultural, and social desolation. It’s an envisioned society where everything has been annihilated.

“It was a system that saw evil as good, and good as evil. And it’s for this reason that communists and socialist tyrants have repeatedly throughout history attacked, imprisoned, or killed anyone who believed in traditional moral values.”

“Over the last century, communism has killed more than 100 million people,” Philipp notes. “Desolation is the goal of communism, socialism is the tyrannical system of government it takes to achieve its goals, and struggle and hatred are its tools.”

Johnson’s fellow travelers in the Revolutionary Communist Party make no qualms about their aims, calling for “seizing on moments when the contradictions of this system find expression in sharp crisis, in order to make crucial breakthroughs to hasten the emergence of a revolutionary situation—a situation in which there is a deep crisis in the whole system and millions of people are oriented, organized, and determined to put everything on the line to bring about the overthrow of this system and its replacement with a radically different system.”

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has been vocal about opposing socialism. He also recently said he supports an amendment that would ban the burning of American flags.

“All in for Senator Steve Daines as he proposes an Amendment for a strong BAN on burning our American Flag. A no brainer!” Trump wrote on Twitter on June 15.

‘Salute to America’

Trump said this year’s “Salute to America” event that seeks to honor the U.S. military on Independence Day will be the “show of a lifetime.”

The hour-long event to take place at the National Mall starting 6:30 p.m. will include a presidential speech, military demonstrations, multiple aircraft flyovers, and music, paying tribute to America’s five service branches—the air force, army, coast guard, marine corps, and navy.

“Our July 4th Salute to America at the Lincoln Memorial is looking to be really big. It will be the show of a lifetime!” Trump wrote on Twitter early on July 3.

The White House says that the president’s speech, planned to be delivered at the Lincoln Memorial at the event, will focus on patriotism.

“I’m going to say a few words, and we’re going to have planes going overhead,” Trump told reporters on July 1 in the Oval Office. “And we’re going to have tanks stationed outside.”

Donald Trump, Alex Azar, Mike Pence
President Donald Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar (R), speaks during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on July 1, 2019. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

Participants in “Salute to America” include the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”), the Armed Forces Chorus, the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, and many others. Gates to the event open at 3 p.m.

U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard rehearses as July Fourth preparations continue at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington
U.S. Navy AT3 aviation electronics technician Samuel McIntire leads a Navy Ceremonial Guard practicing with rifles with bayonets as preparations continue for U.S. President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on July 3, 2019. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

“This is going to be a fantastic Fourth of July with increased access across the National Mall for the public to enjoy music, flyovers, a spectacular fireworks display, and an address by our Commander-in-Chief,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said of the event in a statement on June 28.

Battle tanks are due to be displayed on Washington’s National Mall, including two M2 Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicles, and M1 Abrams tanks, Reuters reported.

Fourth of July Trump
An Army soldier hops out of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle after moving it into place by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on July 3, 2019. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo)

The Defense Department has also arranged for flyovers by the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels jet squadron, a B-2 stealth bomber, F-35 and F-22 fighter jets, a V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft, the Marine One helicopters, and Air Force One jet used to transport the president. The Pentagon said that top military leaders will be attending, Reuters reported.

U.S. Navy Blue Angels. (U.S. Department of the Interior)

This year’s fireworks display, to take place around 9 p.m., is slated to be one of the longest July 4 fireworks events in D.C. at about 35 minutes.

Mimi Nguyen-Ly and Reuters contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'