We truly live in a society of the spectacle. Too much emphasis is placed on how noticeable you are, instead of what you do. Unfortunately, it has become the norm for liberty activists to seek as much publicity as possible, regardless of what was actually accomplished.
As you have all have no doubt heard, Adam Kokesh has been arrested recently, this time during the Smoke Down Prohibition V rally in Philadelphia. Despite being a renowned DMT smoker and pot head extraordinaire, he is not being charged with use (or even possession) of illicit narcotics, but with what seems to be assault against a federal officer. In the case of United States of America v. Adam Kokesh, he is being accused by Donald Reed of the National Park Service of violating Title 18, United States Code § 111.
First, we should consult what actually constitutes this thing called, “assault.” All the major law dictionaries’ various definitions for what qualifies as assault commonly demand an intention to cause harm; as is referenced in Black’s Law Dictionary (citing State v. Davis, 23 N.C. 127):
“An assault is an intentional attempt, by violence, to do an injury to the person of another. It must be intentional; for, if it can be collected, notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, that there is not a present purpose to do an injury, there is no assault.”
So, there ya go… someone who is being charged with assault must be demonstrated to have mens rea; lacking that, it doesn’t satisfy the legal standard of beyond all reasonable doubt. Now, let us turn to the legal statute he is being charged under:
“In general, whoever forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person designated in section 1114 of this title while engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties… shall, where the acts in violation of this section constitute only simple assault, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both, and where such acts involve physical contact with the victim of that assault or the intent to commit another felony, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.”
By also taking a look at 18 USC 3571, we find that being “fined under this title” means:
“A defendant who has been found guilty of an offense may be sentenced to pay a fine…an individual who has been found guilty of an offense may be fined not more than the greatest of…for a felony, not more than $250,000…for a Class A misdemeanor that does not result in death, not more than $100,000; for a Class B or C misdemeanor that does not result in death, not more than $5,000; or for an infraction, not more than $5,000.”
Now, let’s examine some of Officer Reed’s affidavit:
“National Park Service Rangers approached members of the crowd who were seen in possession of what appeared to be marijuana cigarettes. KOKESH was next to and had locked arms with a person who had a marijuana cigarette. As the Ranger approached the person with the cigarette, KOKESH physically blocked and obstructed the Ranger. As the Ranger pushed forward, KOKESH grabbed the Ranger by the arm to hold him back. KOKESH was then taken into custody.”
By combining 18 USC 111 with 18 USC 3571 and Reed’s affidavit, it would seem to be the case that (lacking any more detail as to whether is he facing an infraction, a misdemeanor of some kind, or a felony) Kokesh is facing a maximum penalty of $250,000 and 8 years of incarceration (left up to the court’s discretion, of course).
Obviously, this is all assuming he is found guilty. Once the footage was made public of the actual arrest, I bet the federal government is going to have a hard time making the assault charge stick; although, did you notice that 18 USC 111 said “forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes” with certain types of government agents? To be perfectly fair, the feds do have a decent chance of arguing that Kokesh “resisted,” “opposed,” and/or “impeded” those NPS Rangers.
Now at this point, you might be wondering why I am covering this story at all. Well, you have to keep in mind that Adam Kokesh is the same guy who already announced he plans on leading an armed march into the District of Criminals on Independence Day. You’d think he’d keep his head down and stay out of legal trouble (at least, until the 4th), so as to avoid any potential mishaps that could inadvertently sabotage his own march. Apparently, such is not the case here.
Maybe Kokesh will beat the rap. Perhaps the feds will drop the charges. It is also equally likely that he will either be found guilty but his deposition will read “adjudication withheld,” or he will accept some of other form of a plea bargain. Am I suggesting he could be turned into a federal informant if his legal defense falters or he simply lacks money to fund his attorney? As a good friend of mine has incessantly reminded me to ask, “What are all the possibilities?”
Needless to say, I think the sheer timing of this arrest is highly suspect. Assuming it goes down badly, it would provide Kokesh the perfect cover story to call off the much publicized July 4th armed march into DC while still maintaining his stellar reputation as a liberty activist (or should I say Patriot Rockstar within the Carnival?). Of course, it could very likely just be a coincidence. Another possibility is that this was deliberately planned by Kokesh to serve as a preparatory run for the Independence Day event (in the context of perfecting his craft, anyway).
Let it be said, on and for the record, that I have nothing against Adam Kokesh, either personally or “professionally.” I do not question his goals or even his political philosophy. What I do question are his methods; most importantly, I question his judgement. The worst thing that Kokesh has been doing over the past several years (including that dancing stunt at the Jefferson Memorial) is drilling into people’s heads that civil disobedience necessarily requires openly teasing the bears of the State. Such an implied claim is completely wrong, for I think even Thoreau would never have considered such activity true civil disobedience. I really wish he would stop being a bad example in this regard, such when he publicly brags about buying DMT off the Silk Road using Bitcoins.
In any case, I sincerely hope that Kokesh’s situation does not worsen; despite my methodological disagreements with this man, even he doesn’t deserve what is happening to him. Hopefully, he’ll legally beat it, and be completely available to lead that armed march, where I’ll finally get to see if he can surpass Linda Thompson’s bloated claims (from back in 1994) about marching into DC with guns. I hope he does, if for no other reason than to finally demonstrate (pun intended) that “protest” marches don’t work to secure anyone’s Liberty.