Federal Government Releases Political Prisoner Adam Kokesh

May 28th, 2013

Liberty activist and war veteran Adam Kokesh was set free by federal authorities last Friday. He had initially been arrested during a pro-marijuana rally, allegedly for felony assault on a federal officer, though video footage of the incident demonstrated that these charges were likely fabricated as a means to try to hold Kokesh under federal custody until after his planned open carry march on Washington DC.

Kokesh was arrested alongside “Nikki Allen” Poe at the Smoke Down Prohibition rally in Philadelphia, despite the fact that he wasn’t participating in the civil disobedience aspect by smoking marijuana in violation of the law. Clutching his microphone in hand, Kokesh was seized by police suddenly during his presentation. Though he clearly did not resist, as is demonstrated in the below video, he was initially told that he would be charged with a felony as if he had assaulted a federal officer. After significant public outcry, Kokesh’ charges were reduced to misdemeanors.

Felony Charges Downgraded to Misdemeanor Citations

When Kokesh was first arrested, authorities indicated that he could be facing charges of felony assault on a federal officer. However, the event was videotaped from multiple angles and posted online, resulting in widespread public outcry, as the footage clearly demonstrated that the assault did not take place. In fact, Adam Kokesh might have been one of the few people in frame in the video who wasn’t violating a law, as many nearby protesters were purposefully smoking marijuana as an act of civil disobedience.

Upon his arrest, Kokesh maintained his innocence. A grassroots legal defense fund spontaneously materialized, and protesters demanded his release. Eventually, federal authorities realized they had no legal justification for felony charges. The charges were reduced to misdemeanor citations, which Kokesh refused to sign out of principle. In most cases, the signing of a misdemeanor citation is done voluntarily to signify that the individual is aware of the charge and the resulting court date.

Kokesh Expands Open Carry March to All 50 States

It seems likely that federal authorities went to the Smoke Down Prohibition rally specifically to arrest Kokesh in an effort to shut down his planned peaceful open carry march on Washington DC. In response to his arrest, Kokesh called for these protests to take place in all 50 states nationwide, instead of just in the nation’s capital.

A nationwide open carry rally would likely be less confrontational than a single one taking place only in Washington DC. The District of Columbia has some of the most restrictive gun laws in America, and many other states allow open carry protests. By having these types of rallies in multiple states at the same time, law enforcers in anti-gun states will have the opportunity to watch the more rational way in which pro-gun states respond to the same type of protest.

Federal authorities should have never arrested Adam Kokesh in the first place. It’s clear he wasn’t committing a crime. His imprisonment was an effort to restrict his freedom of speech and right to bear arms. In that sense, he was being held as a political prisoner. However, the rule of law won the day, as federal prosecutors couldn’t find charges that would hold the veteran in jail long enough to stop his rally.

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About the Author: Barry Donegan

Barry Donegan is a singer for the experimental mathcore band Look What I Did, a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.