Libertarian anti-war activist Adam Kokesh seeks 10,000 supporters for «civil disobedience.» Police issue warning.
A Marine Corps veteran who became a vocal anti-war activist is rounding up armed followers to march peacefully into the nation’s capital on Independence Day as «an act of civil disobedience.»
Washington police and the U.S. Park Police say they will confront the «open carry» marchers if they step across the border dividing Virginia from the District of Columbia. Washington residents can have registered firearms only on their own property, not in public.
The march is being organized by Adam Kokesh, a former Internet talk radio host who in 2008 disrupted Sen. John McCain’s presidential nomination acceptance at the GOP convention because of the nominee’s support for the Iraq War.
The avowed libertarian wants to «muster» supporters outside Arlington National Cemetery on July 4 and cross the Potomac River on the Memorial Bridge and then march around the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court and the White House «with rifles loaded & slung across our backs.»
Kokesh, 31, is seeking a «critical mass» of 10,000 marchers by June 1. As of Tuesday, about 3,000 people had signed up.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier warned Tuesday that marchers could expect to be met by officers on the D.C. side of the bridge.
«If you are coming here to protest government policy, great,» Lanier said, according to WJLA-TV. «We’re all for it. We’ll work with you. We’ll get you in and where you want to go. We’ll facilitate you moving in and around the city. If you’re coming here to break the law, then we’re going to take action.»
A Park Police spokesman told The Washington Post that U.S. officers would be there, too, because the district is federal property.
Kokesh, who has been arrested for anti-war protests and for dancing at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, said there «will be coordination» with police beforehand.
«I will recommend that they do the best they can to honor their oaths and escort us on our route,» Kokesh writes on his site, Adam vs. The Man. «Failing to provide that commitment to safety, we will either be informed that we will only be allowed up to a certain point where we would be arrested.»
Here’s how he explains the event:
This is an act of civil disobedience, not a permitted event. We will march with rifles loaded & slung across our backs to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated & cower in submission to tyranny. We are marching to mark the high water mark of government & to turn the tide. This will be a non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent. Should we meet physical resistance, we will peacefully turn back, having shown that free people are not welcome in Washington, & returning with the resolve that the politicians, bureaucrats, & enforcers of the federal government will not be welcome in the land of the free.
Kokesh has not applied for a march permit and said he would not obtain one.
He told the Post that the march is not specifically aimed at protesting the district’s strict gun laws but is «more to assert our rights as individuals on Independence Day.»
At a rally for free speech last June, Kokesh spoke out against a proposed $20 fine for profanity in Middleborough, Mass.
In 2010, Kokesh ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for a congressional seat in New Mexico. He was supported by former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul.