May 15th, 2013
This week, an ongoing story that we’ve had our eyes on. It’s supposed to culminate on July 4th when, according to the event’s organizers, 1000+ armed persons will walk from Virginia into the District of Columbia with loaded rifles slung over their shoulders in protest of the unlawful and unconstitutional prohibition of this means of self defense in the nation’s capitol.
There is a large and interesting cast of characters related to this event. In this episode we get into the ins, outs, and what-have-yous surrounding the peaceful, armed, potentially explosive event.
Jad: Greetings and welcome to the JK Podcast where I assume you know by now, co-host Kevin Ludlow and I chit and chat about this and that, usually centered around some aspect of our mutual interest in peace, justice, and human freedom. This week, an ongoing story that we’ve had our eyes on, it’s supposed to culminate on July 4th when – according to the event’s organizers – 1,000 plus armed persons will walk from Virginia into the District of Columbia with loaded rifles slung over their shoulders in protest of the unlawful and unconstitutional prohibition on this means of self defense in the nation’s capital.
There is a large and interesting cast of characters related to this event, and we’ll get into the ins and outs and what have you’s along the way, But rather than front load this conversation too much, let’s jump straight to it.
Kevin: Should people be concerned about the fact that you’re going to have this – or presumably going to have this massive group of people who are armed, where they probably many of them if they’re involved in this activity to begin with, they probably already are upset with the government and other people in the country as well who are just completely unwilling to even acknowledge the fact that this type of tyrannical force is maybe not prevailing, but certainly having some sort of influence over the country.
There’s the principled stance and then there’s the logical stance, and I can see people arguing both sides of them, and so I guess, I don’t know exactly what question to ask here, but I’m trying to figure out you know, do you think that this march is going to have unintended consequences?
Jad: That’s what everyone is afraid of, right – the people who maybe support it in some sense but – or think it’s a bad idea and you know in another sense – are afraid that yeah, some hothead will you know, do something stupid or –
Jad: I mean, my guess is that it’s going to be intensely horizontally policed – I’m just speaking out my ass here, I have no idea. But I would imagine that like if somebody began to take a gun off their shoulder, everyone around them is going to stop them. If there’s 1,000 people – let’s just imagine they get 1,000 people to go – I think they’ll probably be you know, 500 cameras, so there’s no real way that a mystery can ensue, you know what I mean?
Jad: Whatever happens is going to be very clear what happened, so I don’t think anything bad is going to happen at all. My guess is they’ll get to the bridge, they’ll walk across the bridge, and the D.C. police will arrest them one by one as they come across the bridge – that’s my guess, and I think that would be a win for you know, for what they’re trying to do.
Jad: And I think they have acknowledged that as a possibility, or as a probability. I the thing that there’s almost zero chance of is one of the people in the crowd – one of the people in the protest – firing or you know, setting off their gun.
Jad: I think that’s just almost entirely unlikely, and I think it’s almost equally unlikely that you know, some you know, a police officer would fire their weapon.
Kevin: Let’s certainly hope not. Right.
Jad: Well I think it’s you know, I think the conspiracy theory paranoid crowd, which I’m not you know, it’s very good to be paranoid but you know, would imagine that someone could throw like, a package of black cats somewhere right, and just you know, and cause something to happen. But again, I just think that this thing is going to be like every single angle from every part of the entire group is just going to be filmed.
Jad: And probably outside the group too –
Jad: – people who aren’t part of the actual civil disobedience but are just there to observe it you know, for whatever side. I think it’s just going to be – it’s going to be impossible like I said, for anyone to do anything underhanded because whatever happens, it’s going to be very clear what happened.
Jad: I don’t think there’s – and like I said, I don’t think there’s any chance of the people who are serious enough about this issue to take part in the protest allowing someone to their right or left to like, open fire on police – I just don’t think that’s even a possibility.
Kevin: Well I don’t think it’s a possibility either. I think the only thing that could be – I think the only thing that could I guess, alert[?] people’s concern is just if they are intending to arrest people – which I think that’s what you were saying, is you think a pretty likely scenario and I think that that’s not unlikely – if they do start arresting people, especially if there’s you know, if there actually are 1,000 people or more that show up which again, I’ve seen mixed reports on this.
I’ve seen Adam claiming that they’ve got this huge group, I’ve seen other people claiming that it’s actually a very, very small group and even some of the people who seem to be supportive of it are a little nervous or a little worried about the whole thing. They don’t know that it’s a great idea or – so there’s mixed reports on both sides.
Jad: The Adam that Kevin is referring to is Adam Kokesh, the event organizer. Adam is a veteran of the Iraq war and joined Veterans for Peace and other anti-war political movements upon his return. He has an internet show called Adam versus the Man, which he uses as a platform for his anarchist political philosophy. He frequently engages in civil disobedience, most notably a series of dance-ins at the Jefferson Memorial, where dancing is apparently illegal.
I think the odds of them having 1,000 people, that would be about the tipping point where I would be like, I would give even odds to either side, you know what I mean?
Kevin: Right. Right.
Jad: Because these things do typically – the numbers you know, like the Million Man March is 10,000 people, so does that mean the 1,000 person march is – or 100 people –
Kevin: [?] 100 people.
Jad: Yeah, actually that would be 10 people, so –
Kevin: We just take the assumption that say, 1,000 or thousands of people showed up, if they start arresting people one by one, first of all with that large of an amount of people, you’re going to have a hell of a time arresting people outside of using some sort of force of violence. That’s the sort of thing that we saw happening at the Occupy protests with respect to you know, there’s just so many people out there, you’re not just – you can’t have a one to one ratio of police officers to protesters just going up to people and putting cuffs on somebody, and them putting them to the side, and then putting cuffs on the next person, and putting them to the side, et cetera. At that point, all of a sudden there’s violent tactics that come out.
Of course in that case, it tended to be pepper spray, and mace, and things of that nature and varying you know, S.W.A.T. lines and stuff like that, shielded cops. So I guess that’s kind of where like, the philosophical question of this whole thing gets I guess a little entrenched you know – in my mind anyways – is that it seems to me – and kinda to what Chris Cantwell[?] is saying as well – like, the only way that this really can happen is if you use violence to begin with, right? I think you have to assume that the reason that this type of conflict ultimately can come to pass is because you – the people that they’re speaking out against are already using violence against them, and so I guess what I’m trying to figure out is what would stop that group from using violence in this case?
I mean if you’ve got thousands of people who are protesting and you don’t want them to protest, you need to arrest them, but you can’t arrest them one by one, you just don’t have that many people, what do you do? I mean, the traditional response has been like I said to use violence to stop that crowd and then you know you pick and choose people that you arrest and then everybody else kind of dissipates because there’s teargas, and mace, and et cetera going through the crowd. But if all those people are armed, again, I don’t see them firing back necessarily, but I don’t know, it poses an interesting type of question I think.
Jad: Chris Cantwell is an activist, comedian, and anarchist from New York, City. Kevin is referring here to a conversation that we’d had about him earlier, which I will be posting as a separate podcast once I can figure out how to add sufficient caveats separating the JK Podcast from Chris’ philosophy to satisfy my beloved life partner, who has informed me in no uncertain terms that she will never forgive me if I’m arrested for political speech – ironically known as terroristic threats by the heavily armed persons that live off money stolen from productive labor.
So before I begin, let’s get this straight, the JK Podcast and its hosts in no way advocate the use of violence as a political tool. Chris Cantwell has been accused of such by other activists in his political circles. He has his own caveats for his position:
Chris: I’m definitely not saying that you, or I, or anyone else should assassinate a politician, or a cop, or blow up a building. In fact, if you go out and do that, you’re a lunatic and I want nothing to do with you.
(End Audio Clip)
Jad: His belief – which is the point of contention – is, “if alternative social structures become sufficiently threatening to state authority, violence will be used by the government to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy those structures.” “At that point”, says Chris, “targeted individuals and communities will organize physical defense, or be arrested and or killed.”
Chris advocates talking about that situation, most of his comrades and my wife would prefer that he didn’t. To be fair, my wife really only wants me and Kevin not to talk about it. Also, nothing in the preceding paragraph should be construed as advocating violence – something neither Kevin, nor myself, nor the JK Podcast is doing. To resynchronize us here with the conversation, the “they” that I’m about to refer to repeatedly are the D.C. police.
Now that you say that, it strikes me that the reason they won’t use those tactics is precisely because they could, I think they would imagine that they would end up in a fire fight, you know?
Kevin: [?] think.
Jad: So when they do that to college kids, they know they’re going to get like, rocks thrown at them, and maybe a trashcan lid or something like that.
Jad: But they feel safe doing it, and I think in this instance that’s probably something they’re going to try to avoid because of that possibility. I think they can and will do that arrest people one by one thing. There are lots of protests that have happened you know, especially in the 80s with the protest about the school, the Americas and stuff like that where it literally is 1,000 people walk up, they each you know, put their hands out, they get cuffed, they get on a bus, and they get sent off to be processed, and that is the protest. And then everyone pleads innocent, or pleads not guilty – you don’t plead innocent – pleads not guilty and they all end up trying to make the political system, try to make the legal system feel the weight of their numbers.
Jad: And the entire time they have a platform to speak about what’s going on because people are supposedly or theoretically, the media’s paying attention to that sort of thing. So I would be really surprised if they use the kind of tactics that they used against you know, Occupy Wall Street, but that would be – I would have to take back my guess that nobody would ever consider opening fire. I mean, I really don’t know you know, what their contingency plans are for that sort of thing.
Kevin: Yeah, if teargas starts flying.
Kevin: Well yeah, so I mean you had brought up you know, British and India – or excuse me, England and India not that long ago, I mean, is it a similar sort of thing I mean, that’s the type of protest that you saw kind of organized under Gandhi, I mean, things of that nature where you know, you’re just trying to get people arrested just to show the numbers, the solidarity of being arrested. I mean, how does it look when you arrest say, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 people for an alleged crime even though 10,000 people participated, you know? It’s – and that’s how that whole movement started.
I just, I have a hard time – if I use the example of Gandhi under British controlled India – I just have a really hard time comparing people in the United States who are marching in an you know, an open carry sort of demonstration to the type of mindset that people had in India you know, 60 years ago, 70 years ago. I guess that’s what I’m trying to figure out you know, is – I wouldn’t see people that are walking into the Capital with a loaded weapon, with a loaded rifle – which I’m supported of – I wouldn’t see them standing up in a line and putting their hands out and saying, “arrest me”.
It strikes me as not the type of person who’s interested in kind of a passive resistance demonstration; they’re looking to do just the opposite, right? It’s not passive at all, it’s in itself kind of a show of aggression, which again, I’m very supportive of because I feel that the people that they’re trying to protest against are using exceeding excessive forces of aggression, and so they’re – these people are really just trying to protest against that, so I don’t know I mean, I’m not saying you’re wrong, I have no idea obviously, but if I had to speculate it, it just strikes me that these aren’t going to be people who are interested in that type of demonstration.
Jad: I think actually – and it’ll obviously be a mixed crowd – the people who are organizing this – and I don’t know how much of this, of the people who are enthusiastic about this are from the fringy you know, violent right, but the people who are organizing it are from – speculating a little bit here – but they strike me as being cut from the same cloth having the same vision as civil – as peaceful protesters you know, in other non-violent movements. Their point is that they’re not going to resist. They’re breaking a law, they know they’re breaking a law, and they’re going to accept the penalty for breaking that law, and they’re not – so the carrying of the gun – and I agree with you, it’s an interesting, very interesting foot in both worlds thing because what they’re saying is, “we have the right to protect ourselves. We’re not going to exercise this right in a way that will get us all killed”, and that’s kind of the Chris Cantwell position too, and I think that’s kind of that – like I said, it’s a foot in both worlds.
It’s kind of confusing to me. It definitely pushes my boundary past where I’ve ever really thought about. I agree with all the positions, I just hadn’t actually heard anyone put them together like that where it’s you know, you have – as a human being, you have the inalienable right to defend yourself, and that is what the protest is going to be demonstrating, but they’re not going to exercise that right, they’re just going to break that law – the law that says that they don’t have that right. They’re going to break that law and accept the consequences.
Jad: In the two weeks since we had this conversation, Adam Kokesh was arrested by federal authorities at a marijuana legalization event in Philadelphia. He is currently being held without bail. Initially, the charge was rumored to be resisting arrest, leaving the question of, “arrested for what”, unanswered. It seems like he was eventually charged for felony assault on a federal official. You can find the half dozen or so recorded accounts of the event on YouTube easily enough if you’re interested, but it’s pretty clear that Adam submitted himself peacefully to arrest, though he does manage to hang on to his microphone as he’s carried away.
Whether this has anything to do with the July 4th open carry protest in D.C. is obviously speculative – I speculate that it does. In any case, it doesn’t seem to matter much. 4,700 Facebook accounts claim to be going, with 4,200 maybes, and about 90,000 invitations outstanding. We may not get back around to the topic before July 4th, but we’ll have all the links you need to stay current at JKPod.com. Additionally, I think we have all our Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, MySpace, and Friendster feeds in case you’re really interested in our marginally informed, largely remote opinion on the matter.
And it’s a two-way street at JKPod.com, so please stop by and leave us a comment or an email at JKPod@JKPod.com. You can also come by our individual sites, Jad-Davis.com, and KevinLudlow.com. We look forward to hearing from you, and until next time, take care.