How Violence Nearly Broke Out Over Jamey Johnson’s Tumbleweed Outburst.

This is not an article about the flag that was on display at Tumbleweed this past weekend in Sugar Creek, Missouri, or anyone’s opinion surrounding it.

Let me state that again for perfect clarity.

This is not an article about the flag that was on display at Tumbleweed this past weekend in Sugar Creek, Missouri, or anyone’s opinion surrounding it.

This is about how the situation was handled and how somehow, against all odds, it didn’t end up worse than it was. How a clumsy demand nearly turned into violence against an off duty female police officer from the state of Texas.

Opinions are opinions. Everyone has one, and contrary to popular belief no one’s opinion is worth any more than the next person’s. Your opinion on the flag that was flown is yours, mine is mine, and it doesn’t matter either way because this isn’t a perfect world where we all think and feel the same. And that’s ok.

I’m not writing this to deal in opinions. I’m writing this to deal with the facts. The facts of what really happened down in that front row Saturday night. The facts I know to be facts because I witnessed them with my own eyes. This incident took place within half an arms length of myself, my wife, and several close friends of mine.

Jamey Johnson took issue with the flag being flown Saturday night at Tumbleweed. This is a fact. I’m sure if you’re reading this you’ve seen the video. That’s fine, that’s his opinion. He demanded that the flag be removed or he would leave.

“Your flag don’t look like this one. Take that motherfucker down or I’m leaving,” he demanded, and then repeated.

The flag in question symbolizes remembrance of police and emergency responder personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Johnson claimed later on that he did not know what the flag symbolized.

I’m sorry, folks, but that just doesn’t make sense to me. Jamey Johnson is not a stupid man. He’s not an uninformed man. Jamey Johnson is a smart man. Jamey Johnson is actually a very political man. He was an active marine, and he’s been all over this country for the better part of the last two decades. This symbolism isn’t new. The ideology behind it isn’t political in nature. It’s not a cause. It’s a simple display of respect for those who have lost their lives in the service of the public. Jamey Johnson played at a memorial service of a fallen Nashville police officer just 6 months ago. The same flag that has caused this whole stir at Tumbleweed had to have been flying during that service as well. It just doesn’t add up to me.

The festivalgoer flying the flag, who at her request and the request of her department will not be identified here, is a female officer in a small South Central Texas town. “I wasn’t there to try and push anything down anyone’s throat,” she said in an exclusive phone interview. “My agenda was to have a good time. I’m a proud Texan and I’m proud of what I do [as a law enforcement officer] and that’s all it was. We had a really badass time up to that point, but that really just kind of killed everything for us.

When questioned about other reactions to the flag throughout the weekend she said they had heard nothing but positive things. “We had several individuals come up thanking us for flying the flag. We had police, active military, veterans, civilians commenting on it. We had members of various bands ask us to wave it. We had people who didn’t understand what it stood for ask about it, and we explained it to them. We never heard any kind of negative comments about it until that moment.”

TW flag
The flags displayed at Tumbleweed that are at the center of the controversy. 

The flag, which had flown on that side of the stage during both nights of the festival, had not raised any issues until that point. “If somebody would have come and said ‘Hey listen, Jamey (or anyone else) has a problem with the flags could you take them down?’ I would have taken them down,” she said.

Immediately following Johnson’s ultimatum to remove the flag, the situation on the front row turned ugly.

“He was singing ‘In Color’ which is a really great song, it says things about being in the military so I decided to wave the flag, doing my best not to obstruct anyone’s view. There was no intent to push anything down anyone’s throat, and if he didn’t like it that’s perfectly fine. But whenever he started cussing and threatening to leave, the moment he threatened to leave he knew all those people were going to turn, and that’s exactly what happened. I immediately began trying to lower them, but we had people coming from every angle trying to get at us. Some of them were pissed and they were drunk, and you can’t reason with a drunk. It got violent. I had someone trying to rip things out of my hands, people threatening to hit me, calling us names all the while I’m trying to take it down. I’m a very proud person so having to take that down was like being kicked in the teeth, but having someone take it from me wasn’t going to happen. I had to get physical with one guy. I had to push him to get him off of me. They were just coming from everywhere. It was uncalled for.”

As the flags were lowering Johnson continued with the show, but the situation surrounding the flags remained tense. “After I had taken it down I was approached by someone claiming to be security try to take it from me, even though they were sitting in my chair.”

Even after the music on the main stage had ended the situation remained uneasy. “Several of the officers working the event were also upset by the situation. A representative was sent to issue an apology from Jamey to the officers working the event, but what good is an apology coming from someone else?”

She concluded that portion of our conversation by saying “We don’t think he was being anti-police, we just think he was causing a scene.”

I asked if the experience was enough to prevent them from returning to the festival again. “Not at all. We’re already planning on going next year, and if he’s there we’ll just leave. We don’t want drama.”

Her account of the events is spot on. As soon as Jamey demanded the flag be removed or he would leave the crowd turned violent. It nearly turned into a mob scene. She immediately began lowering the flags, but that did nearly nothing to calm the angry reaction that Johnson had directed at them. I saw the man grabbing at her, and her pushing him back. I heard people behind me threatening to come up and “beat the fuck out of them”. A good friend of mine stopped one approaching man saying “You’re not going to come up here and fight a lady.”

Grown men and women, both drunk and sober, were attempting to perpetrate violence towards a woman spurred on by Jamey’s reaction to the flag she was flying,

Read that again, and let it sink in.

The situation ended as well as it could have, which was still well over the line. And there’s a lot to be said about how potentially bad it could have gotten if things had really gotten out of hand. People could have been seriously hurt, exposing the festival, its organizers, and the city hosting the event to legal problems that could had prevented the event from ever happening again.

Like I said earlier, Jamey Johnson is not a stupid man. He knew that his behavior would cause a violent reaction in the crowd.

That’s a problem. That’s a serious problem.

We go to these shows to enjoy the music. To enjoy camaraderie with fellow fans, and experience some good times and great music. And it never fails, in any crowd in any club on any night there’s always that one individual who has had too much to drink and they are trying to start an altercation, and it ruins part, or all of the experience for those around them. If you’ve been to a live show you’ve likely experienced that. And usually it’s the guys on stage who speak up and tell everyone to calm down and behave. To get along, love one another, and enjoy the music. (That last sentence is a nearly direct quote from Cody Jinks in response to an altercation at a show earlier this spring, just for reference.)

At Tumbleweed, we saw the polar opposite of that. Jamey Johnson has been around more than enough crowds to know what was going to happen when he blew up.

There were dozens of security guards, his personal staff, and festival staff standing directly at both edges of the stage that he could have asked to handle the situation in a way that would have avoided all of that. Or he himself could have asked in a much more peaceful and respectful manner for the flags to be released.

Yet he chose to create a volatile situation in a standing room only, all-ages crowd.

That is not ok.

You don’t purposely provoke violence in a large crowd of people.

I’ll say that again.

You don’t purposely provoke violence in a large crowd of people.

It doesn’t matter who you are, you just don’t do that.

If a guy in the crowd does it, he’s just an asshole trying to ruin everyone’s good time.

This time it was the guy on the stage and because he was waving an American flag he’s gotten a free pass, a ton of fanfare and press, and no one with the gumption to call him out on it.

Sorry folks, I was there. I was nearly forced to step up and defend myself and my family and friends in a fight I had no dog in because Jamey Johnson couldn’t go about business in the right way.

And I don’t appreciate that at all.

I can tell you right now that it will never happen again.

And I hate that.

The whole situation was senseless and easily avoided. Unfortunately, looking like a badass to a large crowd of people was more important than keeping the peace, and the safety of the fans in attendance.

I just happen to have the balls enough to stand up and say I don’t give out free passes for that kind of thing.

This land is your land, this land is my land. Even if you don’t agree with me, this land is still my land. And it’s also yours.

And that’s supposed to be ok.

Whatever happened to that?

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5 thoughts on “How Violence Nearly Broke Out Over Jamey Johnson’s Tumbleweed Outburst.

  • August 1, 2017 at 5:04 pm
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    thank you a great report of what happened that night .

    Reply
  • August 2, 2017 at 6:18 am
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    This Sounds To Me Like Someone Yelling ” Fire ” In A Crowded Theater.
    Whenever A Person Mandates His Actions, He Is Forcing A Dangerous Hand Be Played. One In Many Cases May Actually Violate Constitutional Law. I’m Sure That
    The Fraternal Order Of Police Has Been Contacted And An All Clear Has Been Given Regarding All Issues Which May Rise Concerning The Display Of This
    Flag Or Banner Even Concerning What It Should Be Called. Even By What Rights It Should Claim In Being Called Such An Item. What Concerns Me Personally Is That One Or More Individuals Placed Themselves Above The Very Fiber And Being In Which Many Have Payed The Ultimate Price In Order For We As Citizens To Dooley Proclaim Ourselves The Inheritance Of Such An Awesome Gift Given Us By Our Constitution. Cooler Heads Should Have Prevailed Much Sooner And More Effectively Than What Has Been Described Here.

    Reply
  • May 18, 2018 at 2:03 am
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    I saw Jamey Johnson at sundown in the city in Knoxville, TN. He decided to point at me and my friends and say ,,, well things that shouldn’t be said. We were not drinking, not being loud, just standing there listing, ,, no wonder he can’t make it to the top, he seems to have no people skills, that’s sad because the man can sing, but I won’t listen to him anymore

    Reply
    • May 18, 2018 at 8:17 am
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      I really hate to hear of these kinds of things. I still hate that what happened last year did. It was just senseless and avoidable. I don’t think Jamey is a bad guy by any stretch, which makes them even more disheartening to hear.

      Reply

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