Adam Kokesh

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Adam Kokesh
Kokesh2013.jpg
Kokesh in 2013
Personal details
Born
Adam Charles Kokesh

(1982-02-01) February 1, 1982 (age 37)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Political partyLibertarian (2013–present)
Other political
affiliations
Republican (before 2013)
ResidenceAsh Fork, Arizona, U.S.
EducationClaremont McKenna College,
George Washington University
OccupationActivist
Author
Independent journalist
Signature
WebsiteOfficial website
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service1999–2007
RankUSMC-E5.svg Sergeant
Unit3rd Civil Affairs Group[1]
Battles/warsIraq War

Adam Charles Kokesh (/ˈkkɛʃ/; born February 1, 1982) is an American libertarian political activist, radio host, author and a U.S. 2020 Libertarian presidential candidate running on the single-issue platform of an "orderly dissolution of the federal government."[1][2][3]

Kokesh is a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant, serving in the Iraq War in 2004. Upon his return from Iraq, he became an anti-war activist and an advocate for the Iraq Veterans Against the War group. He emerged as a radio talk show host in 2011 when his TV, radio and web access show Adam vs. The Man was licensed by Russia Today's US affiliate, until it was cancelled months later due to an FEC complaint.

He first came to national attention after 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 is an advocate of voluntaryism,[4] and has organized and participated in many anti-government political demonstrations, some of which have resulted in him being detained or arrested.

Early life[edit]

Kokesh was born on February 1, 1982, in San Francisco, California.[5] He was raised in a Jewish[6] middle-class family,[7] and is the oldest of five siblings.[8] His parents divorced when he was 10, after which Kokesh says he took refuge in punk rock.[6]

His father, Charles Kokesh, is a businessman, trophy hunter, and at one time the owner of Santa Fe Horse Park.[8] His grandfather, Charles Henry Kokesh, was an army pilot who served in World War II and was awarded a Silver Star and nomination for a Congressional Medal of Honor.[9]

As an adolescent, Kokesh had an interest in sports, science and technology, and was encouraged by his parents to read numerous books. When Kokesh was fourteen, he attended Devil Pups junior base camp at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California.[10]

He attended Stevenson School, a boarding school in Pebble Beach, for his first year of high school,[11] until he was kicked out for possession of alcohol.[6]

He later attended the Native American Preparatory School in San Miguel County, New Mexico.[11][6] During high school, Kokesh founded the campus radio station.

Kokesh received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Claremont McKenna College. He was the president of the Libertarian Club in college.[12] He later enrolled in graduate studies in political management at George Washington University.[13]

Military service[edit]

Kokesh says he was inspired by his grandfather to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps reserve force at the age of seventeen,[6][9] while still attending high school. He completed Marine Recruit Training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Field Artillery training in the Army Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Following graduation from high school,[14] Kokesh volunteered to go to Fallujah, Iraq, with the 3rd Civil Affairs Group. For his tour in Iraq from February to September 2004, he received a Navy Commendation Medal[15], Combat Action Ribbon, and was promoted to the rank of a sergeant. He especially worked in schools and mosques, observed house raids,[14][6] and says he was in a couple of convoys hit by IEDs.[6]

After ending his first tour of duty, he became disillusioned with the war.[14] Kokesh learned Arabic during his tenure in Iraq.[16]

After Kokesh was honourably discharged in September, he remained a member of the Individual Ready Reserve.[17] He was scheduled to return to Iraq for a second tour, however Kokesh was demoted to a corporal and not permitted to return after he wore his Marine uniform during an anti-war demonstration.[18][19]

Kokesh later said he disagreed with the war, but volunteered to "do the right thing" and "clean up our mess".[20]

Activism[edit]

Iraq Veterans Against The War[edit]

In February 2007, he became an active participant in the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). On March 19, to mark the 4th anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Kokesh and twelve other IVAW members participated in an occupation-like mock patrol of Washington, D.C.[21]

Kokesh first came to national attention after he was interviewed on CNN and ABC, 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.[14] 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).[22]

Kokesh being arrested at Senate Hart office building in April 26, 2007.
Kokesh speaking at an anti-war protest in September 2007 wearing combat uniform.

In April 2007, Kokesh and a number of other activists were arrested after protesting the Iraq war in the Senate Hart Office Building. Kokesh had performed a ceremony for lost service members using an American flag.[17]

During the Senate Hart Office Building demonstration, Kokesh was wearing combat fatigue pants (with name tags and emblems removed), which the Marine Corps prohibits reserve troops from wearing during anti-war demonstrations.[17][23] After Kokesh was contacted via e-mail with a warning for violating uniform regulations, he responded with a refusal to comply and used an expletive in his reply.[17][24] He contends that the warning was an attempt to silence and punish members of the military for exercising their constitutional rights;[25] while the Marine Corps says it is a matter of ordinary discipline and Kokesh was not singled out.[23] In June, a panel of officers stripped Kokesh of his "honorable discharge" status as a result of his conduct.[26][24]

Supporters of Kokesh from around the country later staged a protest, holding banners and signs in support of Kokesh, and criticizing George W. Bush over the war.[27] Many of the protestors wore red badges bearing the number "3,495", the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq at the time.[27]

In June 2007, Kokesh, along with IVAW members Liam Madden and Nate Lewis, was 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.[28]

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week[edit]

In October 2007, Kokesh, along with six other students, created controversy by putting up political posters across the George Washington University campus to mock "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week", which they described as racist and islamophobic. The event was organized by a conservative student organization, and invited speaker David Horowitz on the George Washington University campus.[29][30]

Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign[edit]

On July 12, 2008, Kokesh spoke at the Revolution March, which took place on the west lawn of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.[31]

On September 2, 2008, Kokesh spoke at Ron Paul's Rally for the Republic in St. Paul, Minnesota.[32]

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,[33] Kokesh yelled: "Ask him why he votes against vets!" Kokesh was detained by local police and released soon after.[34]

Thomas Jefferson Memorial silent dance[edit]

On May 28, 2009, 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 within the monument.

Kokesh, along with four others including Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, were arrested by the U.S. Park Police for demonstrating without a permit. Kokesh was told he was under arrest after dancing a jig. He refused officers orders and was subsequently violently body-slammed onto the marble floor, 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.[35][36]

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.[37] 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.'"[38]

Veterans for Ron Paul (2012)[edit]

Kokesh was a spokesperson for "Veterans for Ron Paul", a grassroots group in support of the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign.[39]

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.[40] 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.[41]

Cursing ban in Middleborough, Massachusetts[edit]

On June 26, 2012, Kokesh organized a protest against the decision of Middleborough, Massachusetts, to ban cursing in public with punishment of a $20 fine.[42][43] Kokesh said efforts to limit citizens' free speech was "more offensive, vulgar and obscene than any curse word."[42] About twenty-five protesters, many from the Free State Project in New Hampshire, used profanity-laden signs and deployed the "F-bomb" at the local town hall.

In October 2012, the decision was overturned by the state's attorney general on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.[44]

Open Carry March on Washington[edit]

In May 2013, 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"[45] and peacefully turn back if met with force, and should be prepared to "submit to arrest without resisting."[46]

On July 4, 2013, Kokesh posted a YouTube video of himself allegedly 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. Police indicated they believed he may have used a green screen and on his return to the plaza on July 8 he 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."[47]

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 AK-47 and raw footage from the June 31 video. With helicopters providing air support, the police officers knocked then kicked in the door and lobbed a flash grenade in the foyer, filling the house with smoke. 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."[48][49][50]

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."[51] On the same day, Kokesh announced his plans to run for President of the United States in 2020 on a platform of an orderly dissolution of the U.S. Federal Government.[52]

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.[53][54]

On November 6, 2013, Kokesh was released from jail after waiving his right to a trial and pleading guilty to the July 4 weapons charges and a marijuana possession charge from the June 8 White House protest.[55][56]

On January 16, 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."[57]

On June 12, 2014, 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."[58] In September, Kokesh received a suspended sentence.[59]

Smoke Down Prohibition[edit]

On May 18, 2013, Kokesh, along with other protesters, was arrested in Philadelphia by U.S. National Park Service Rangers[60] at the fifth iteration of a marijuana legalization rally known as Smoke Down Prohibition.[61] Kokesh and Philadelphia marijuana advocate N.A. Poe[who?] appeared before United States magistrate judge Thomas J. Rueter[62] 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."[3]

Protest against the war in Syria[edit]

In April 2017, Kokesh had organized a demonstration in front of the White House as a protest against the Syrian bombing campaign, but before it could start Kokesh was arrested on an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court on charges related to him disrupting a TSA security line in Maryland in 2015.[63]

2010 New Mexico 3rd Congressional District bid[edit]

On October 15, 2009, Kokesh filed with the FEC to run for the U.S. House of Representatives from New Mexico's 3rd congressional district as a Republican.[64]

He finished second in the Republic primary with 29 percent of the vote,[6] losing the nomination to businessman Tom Mullins, who went on to lose the November general election to incumbent Democrat Ben Ray Luján.

FREEDOM![edit]

While in jail after his 2013 arrest stemming from his Freedom Plaza civil disobedience, Kokesh began work on his book, FREEDOM![65]

Kokesh got the idea for the book while reading other libertarian tracts during his stay in jail.[66] The book advocated for the use of cryptocurrency and claims the safest populace is a well-armed one.

FREEDOM! was published on Independence Day (July 4th) in 2014.[67]

Book tours[edit]

In August 2016, Kokesh embarked on the "For the Love of FREEDOM!" tour. The tour, featuring over 60 stops and including all of the 48 contiguous states, served as an exploratory tour for his 2020 Presidential run. Free copies of his book were given away to all in attendance at each event.[68]

In January 2019, 204,453 copies of FREEDOM! were mailed for free to residents in many neighbourhoods of New Orleans, Louisiana.[66] The distribution cost around US$131,000, which was primarily raised from cryptocurrency-related companies.[66] The promotional campaign was named "Operation Big Easy Book Bomb" and intentionally timed before the 2020 Libertarian National Convention.<[citation needed]

2020 presidential campaign[edit]

On July 23, 2013, Kokesh announced his candidacy for U.S. President in 2020 from a jailhouse interview with Fox 5, after he was arrested for the Open Carry incident earlier that month.[52][69] He stated he is running on the single-issue idea of an "orderly dissolution of the U.S. Federal Government". He was the first Libertarian Party candidate to announce their presidential bid for the 2020 election.[70]

On January 16, 2018, Kokesh reaffirmed his candidacy for President. He was pulled over by Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers twice that day and arrested the second time on marijuana and controlled substance charges.[71] He was bailed out on January 25.[72]

Positions[edit]

Government[edit]

Kokesh views government as the greatest cause of violence in the world today and believes that governmental coercion is just as undesirable as coercion performed by a private citizen. He believes that government should be abolished in order to reduce violence and build a society based on respect.[73] Kokesh has stated he does not hate the people running the U.S. government, however he believes government has invalidated itself by betraying the principles from which it was founded.[25]

He has announced plans to run for President of the United States in 2020 on the platform of an orderly dissolution of the federal government.[74] Kokesh says that if he is elected, he will immediately sign his one-and-only executive order to declare the federal government bankrupt and of no authority. He will then resign to become "Custodian of the Federal Government" to oversee the process as a bankruptcy agent.[75] Every federal agency will then either be liquidated, localized to the state level or privatized, over the next four years.[76]

Individualism[edit]

Kokesh is a voluntaryist and an advocate for self-ownership.[77] He believes that any act of violence or threat of violence between individuals represents a violation of someone's freedom.[73]

Taxation[edit]

Kokesh believes that taxation is theft.[78]

Foreign policy[edit]

Kokesh supports a non-interventionist foreign policy.[79] Kokesh is a prominent anti-war activist.[80]

Voting[edit]

Kokesh believes nobody has the right to "vote away your freedom".[81]

Gun rights[edit]

Kokesh is a strong advocate of the right to keep and bear arms. He has stated: "free people who allow themselves to be unarmed will not remain free for long."[81]

Abortion[edit]

Kokesh is personally anti-abortion but is pro-choice and believes that government should have nothing to do with it. He also believes that life begins at conception.[82] On the right to terminate a pregenancy, Kokesh says "if you own your own body, you have no obligation to use it to support another life against your will" and "it's morally repugnant to deny a woman an abortion when she's been raped".

Adam vs. The Man[edit]

Radio[edit]

Adam vs. The Man was a talk show which was 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 RT 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 could be viewed live daily from noon to 2 PM, Pacific Time.

RT America[edit]

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–Georgian War in which he condemned RT for "preferring to use foreigners, especially Americans, to make Russian propaganda points"[83][84] 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".[85] 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."[86]

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 RT 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).[87]

YouTube channel[edit]

Kokesh routinely uploads activism videos to his YouTube channel, Adam vs. The Man.[88][6] As of July 2019, the YouTube channel had 248,000 subscribers.[89] Topics include Kokesh's political views, and videos about how to complete a DUI-checkpoint.[6]

In 2015, the Kokesh renamed the channel to Freedom![6]

Film appearances[edit]

Kokesh appears in the role of "A Soldier" in the 2016 film The Prey,[90] and as himself in the documentaries The Road to Fallujah (2008), For Liberty: How the Ron Paul Revolution Watered the Withered Tree of Liberty (2009), Owned & Operated (2012), Derrick J's Victimless Crime Spree (2012), ShadowRing (2015), and Gray State: The Rise (2015).

On January 19, 2013, Kokesh appeared as a future version of himself at an anti-war-debt rally scene in the 2014 sci-fi thriller, Alongside Night. Kokesh wrote the speech he delivered, a tribute to the character of Dr. Martin Vreeland (played by Kevin Sorbo), in the background during an action sequence. Most of the speech plays during the movie's end credits and the unedited full speech is on YouTube.[91]

Electoral history[edit]

New Mexico U.S. House District 3 Republican primary, 2010[92]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thomas E. Mullins 23,301 71.32
Republican Adam C. Kokesh 9,372 28.68
Total votes 32,673 100

References[edit]

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