Kokesh in 2013
|Born||Adam Charles Kokesh
February 1, 1982
San Francisco, California, United States
|Home town||Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1999–2007|
|Unit||3rd Civil Affairs Group|
A decorated veteran of the War in Iraq, Kokesh came to disparage war and advocate nonviolent resistance to power. Variously identifying as anarchist, anarcho-capitalist, agorist, voluntaryist, Kokesh has called for a "new American revolution" for the "orderly dissolution of the federal government."
Kokesh attended the Native American Preparatory School in San Ysidro, New Mexico, and he received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Claremont McKenna College. Kokesh learned Arabic during his tenure in Iraq.
Marine Corps service
In 1999, Kokesh enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. In 2004, he was deployed to Iraq and served in Fallujah. He was a liaison between the U.S. military and Iraqi civilians as a member of the 3rd Civil Affairs Group. He also worked a security checkpoint while in Iraq. He brought home a pistol from Iraq in 2004 in violation of military rules, as a result of which he was demoted from sergeant to corporal, and shortly thereafter he was honorably discharged from active duty. Kokesh received the Combat Action Ribbon and the Navy Commendation Medal for his combat in Fallujah. In an interview with Washington DC's local Fox affiliate, Kokesh claimed to be 70% disabled from his military service and that he supports himself through disability payments.
Ready Reserve discharge
After his discharge, Kokesh was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and on March 19, 2007, he participated in an anti-war protest and was named in a photo caption of that event in the Washington Post. As a result, on March 29, a Marine Major sent him an e-mail to tell him he was being investigated for misconduct by appearing at a political event while wearing his uniform. Kokesh responded, using an expletive in his reply, thereby incurring an additional misconduct charge under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
In May 2007, a hearing was convened to consider changing Kokesh's military discharge from "honorable" to "other than honorable". The panel recommended Kokesh be given a "general discharge under honorable conditions," which is a discharge status below "honorable," and above "other than honorable". Kokesh's appeal of the decision was denied.
The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Gary Kurpius supported Kokesh and two others arrested with him at the protest, saying "All they're doing is exercising the same democratic voice we're trying to instill over in Iraq right now." The VFW issued a "blistering statement" with the headline: "VFW to Corps: Don't Stifle Freedom of Speech."
In February 2007, he became an active participant in the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). On March 19, 2007, to mark the 4th anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Kokesh and 12 other IVAW members participated in an occupation-like mock patrol of Washington, D.C. Kokesh first came to national attention after he was interviewed on CNN and his photograph appeared in various newspapers, including the front page of the Los Angeles Times at a protest during Alberto Gonzales's testimony to Congress regarding the dismissal of U.S. attorneys. Kokesh, wearing his Marine Corps Boonie hat, held up a sign counting the number of times Gonzalez said "I don't remember" or "I don't recall" (Kokesh claimed Gonzalez used such phrases 74 times).
In April 2007, Kokesh and a number of other activists were arrested for protesting the Iraq war in the Senate Hart Office Building. Kokesh had performed a ceremony for lost service members using an American flag.
In June 2007, Kokesh along with IVAW members Liam Madden and Nate Lewis were arrested for crossing onto Fort Benning during an anti-war protest. A spokesperson for the IVAW said the three had accidentally stepped onto the base while talking to a guard. The trespass charges were dismissed.
Kokesh enrolled in graduate studies in political management at George Washington University. In October 2007, Kokesh, along with six other students, created controversy by putting up mock political posters across the university campus to mock what they called the Islamophobic racist "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" being observed at the campus. The event was organized by a conservative student organization, and invited speaker David Horowitz on the George Washington University campus.
On September 4, 2008, Kokesh interrupted Senator John McCain's acceptance speech of the GOP nomination for president at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Holding a sign reading "McCain Votes Against Vets" on one side and "You can't win an occupation" on the other, Kokesh yelled, "Ask him why he votes against vets!" Kokesh was detained by local police and released soon after.
On May 28 Kokesh and other activists participated in a flash mob-silent dance at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. in protest of a recent ruling against dancing in the monument. Kokesh along with four others including Medea Benjamin of Code Pink were arrested by U.S. Park Police for demonstrating without a permit. Kokesh was interrupted mid-jig, body-slammed onto the marble floor and put in a choke hold, then cuffed. The aggressive nature of the arrests raised concerns about the actions of some of the officers and prompted an internal investigation by the Park Police. A much larger protest on June 4 organized by Kokesh and Code Pink involved about 200 protesters and 75 dancers. About 10 minutes after the dancing began, police began clearing the monument. No arrests were made. When asked by a journalist if he had a permit to protest, Kokesh reportedly produced a copy of the Constitution and said, "Actually I got a permit. It's the same one I swore an oath to when I enlisted in the Marine Corps. And it says something about 'freedom of assembly.'"
On February 20, 2012, after a "Veterans For Ron Paul" rally organized by Kokesh, 500 marchers, including veterans, active-duty service, and their families, marched towards the White House. There they engaged in ceremonial flag-folding in memory of deceased soldiers and periods of silence for soldiers who died in battle and for those who committed suicide after returning.
2013 gun protest and arrest
In May, Kokesh announced an "Open Carry March on Washington" where thousands of marchers bearing arms would cross from Virginia into Washington, D.C. on Independence Day to protest strict gun laws. He described the event as a nonviolent demonstration to be coordinated with DC law enforcement and that marchers should respond "with Satyagraha" and peacefully turn back if met with force, and should be prepared to "submit to arrest without resisting."
On May 18, Kokesh, along with other protesters, was arrested in Philadelphia by U.S. National Park Service Rangers at the fifth iteration of a marijuana legalization rally known as Smoke Down Prohibition. Kokesh and Philadelphia marijuana advocate N.A. Poe[who?] appeared before a judge[who?] on Monday May 20 and were charged with assaulting a federal officer and resisting arrest. The day before his May 24 release, Kokesh penned a press release calling for a "Final American Revolution" to take place on July 4 in place of the previously planned armed march on Washington D.C. This was to be "A new American revolution" where "the American Revolutionary Army will march on each state capital to demand that the governors of these 50 states immediately initiate the process of an orderly dissolution of the federal government through secession and reclamation of federally held property."
On July 4, Kokesh posted a YouTube video of himself loading a shotgun in Freedom Plaza in the District of Columbia in open defiance of DC law. In the 23-second video shot early that morning and titled "Open Carry March on DC a Success," as the Capitol looms in the distance, Kokesh loads the shotgun while addressing the camera:
We will not be silent; we will not obey; we will not allow our government to destroy our humanity. We are the final American Revolution. See you next Independence Day.
On July 8, he returned to the plaza with a local news crew. Though police indicated they believed he may have used a green screen, Kokesh insisted data from government surveillance cameras in Freedom Plaza would show he was there. "I was here, and I loaded a shotgun on Independence Day, but I didn't kill anybody. I didn't drone any children. I didn't steal any children's future. I didn't sell this country into debt. I didn't do any of the crimes that the man two blocks over at the White House is responsible for," he told the reporter. "I was ready to stand by my word, and I was ready to commit the civil disobedience that I had committed to," he said. "Now that we have a year, now that we're doing something that's much more open-sourced, we're going to be marching again next Independence Day."
On the evening of July 9, a U.S. Park Police SWAT team raided Kokesh's house in Herndon,Virginia, executing a search warrant for the shotgun and raw footage from the July 4 video. With helicopters providing air support, officers knocked then kicked in the door and lobbed a flash grenade in the foyer, filling the house with smoke. Masked police clad in body armor stormed in and handcuffed Kokesh and his housemates, who alleged mistreatment during the raid and the ensuing five-hour search, which allegedly turned up the shotgun and Psilocybin mushrooms. Kokesh was charged with possession of Schedule I or II drugs and possession of a gun with Schedule I or II drugs, both felonies. Kokesh refused to leave his cell to be arraigned and fingerprinted, but was arraigned by a judge in his cell the next day. A statement posted on Kokesh's website read, "We will continue to spread the message of liberty, self-ownership and the non-aggression principle regardless of the government’s relentless attacks on our operation." In a jailhouse interview on July 18 Kokesh denied any connection to the drugs found in the raid, implying they were planted. He claimed that the Park Police have a vendetta against him, and, when asked if he knew that what he did in the July 4 video was illegal, he responded, "It's called civil disobedience."
On July 26, Kokesh posted bail in Virginia and was immediately rearrested by U.S. Park Police for breaking a D.C. law forbidding bearing arms which carries a penalty of up to five years in jail, in connection with his Freedom Plaza video. Magistrate Judge Lori Parker ordered Kokesh to remain in the D.C. jail over the weekend because, she said, he had violated the rules of his release in another case. Specifically, she noted that in June 2013, Kokesh was charged with possession of marijuana after he was arrested on the south side of the White House allegedly smoking a marijuana cigarette. On July 29 D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Sullivan, calling Kokesh "a very dangerous man," ordered him to remain in D.C. jail until trial.
On January 17, 2014, Kokesh was sentenced to two years of probation. At his sentencing he apologized for his actions but defended his right to protest. He told the judge he was not a violent person, but just wanted to make a statement. "The only time I was violent was when I was a Marine."
On June 12, Kokesh, after entering an Alford plea in Circuit Court to two felonies related to his possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms while possessing a gun, was convicted of drug and gun charges. Although he did not contest the charges he called the raid that led to his arrest “political persecution.” Kokesh received a suspended sentence.
2010 Congressional campaign
In 2010, Kokesh ran unsuccessfully in the primary for the Republican nomination for New Mexico's 3rd congressional district seat. His campaign donations were mainly from out-of-state, and he received endorsements from Congressman Ron Paul and from the Republican Liberty Caucus. Kokesh's opponent in the New Mexico GOP primary was Tom Mullins. Kokesh received over 9,000 votes for 29% of the primary vote.
Adam vs. The Man
Adam vs. The Man is a talk show which has been available in a variety of formats, such as AM radio, web-access, podcast and Facebook-linked YouTube channel. Initially airing in 2011 as an evening two-hour broadcast on KIVA AM 1550 talk radio in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Adam vs. The Man then shifted to a half-hour video news format on Russia Today (see next section) before fully moving to the internet as an hour-long video podcast. On April 7, 2014, AVTM 4.0 was launched from Los Angeles, CA, and can be viewed live daily from noon to 2 PM, Pacific Time. www.adamvstheman.com/live
Adam vs. The Man was licensed by Russia Today's US affiliate in April 2011. The move was criticized by Accuracy in Media's columnist Cliff Kincaid who referenced his own column entry from 2008 discussing RT's coverage of the Russia–Georgia War in which he condemned RT for "preferring to use foreigners, especially Americans, to make Russian propaganda points" before stating that "the American Marine Veteran, Adam Kokesh, seems to fit the bill, having emerged as an anti-war activist who ran as a Republican for Congress and supported Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) for president". Slate writer David Weigel quoted Kokesh describing RT's model, saying: "Truth is the best propaganda. I love it! I really love the concept of that. It's funny: People say we're hiding shit as a network. No, no—we put the fact that this is propaganda right out front. We're putting out the truth that no one else wants to say. I mean, if you want to put it in the worst possible abstract, it's the Russian government, which is a competing protection racket against the other governments of the world, going against the United States and calling them on their bullshit."
After only a few months on RT, Adam vs. The Man was canceled in August by that network to avoid potential legal problems stemming from an FEC complaint filed against Russia Today by the group America’s Survival, Inc. over the matter of Kokesh endorsing Ron Paul for President (thereby allegedly running afoul of the Foreign Agents Registration Act).
- Direct action
- District of Columbia v. Heller
- Jury nullification
- List of peace activists
- Malum prohibitum
- Nonviolent revolution
- Police state
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