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Adam Kokesh and Police Brutality at the Jefferson Memorial

Updated on January 8, 2018
kwade tweeling profile image

Kwade is a freelance writer who is always in pursuit of education. He feels every subject is fascinating and worth studying.

Edit: (1/8/2018) Due to recent changes to the site, this article needs some updates. It's been several years since this event, and the follow-up protest happened. I hadn't completed the story at the time so I'm updating with the second protest and a few more thoughts.

Who is Adam Kokesh?

You may be wondering who Adam Kokesh even is. Just briefly:

Adam Kokesh isn't just some guy who decided to practice civil disobedience. He's an ex-marine. After serving in the military and witnessing corruption in the federal government, he has made it his goal to help reshape a more peaceful society free of governmental tyranny. This event is one part of his attempts to do so. These days (2018) he is preparing to run for 2020's presidential election in order to dissolve the federal government once instated. If you want to know more, he's posted his own videos on YouTube and more recently on Steemit.

My point is, he didn't just decide to cause trouble to get attention. He's doing this as a means to raise awareness and get more Americans to stand up for our rights.


On May 28, 2011, Adam Kokesh was "body slammed and choked" by police at the Jefferson Memorial. He was arrested for dancing. In process of the arrest he was thrown to the ground and held down by the throat. 

The Dancers Being Arrested

Police Duty

We have here a story that tears me personally in two directions. I have always had a high respect for police. My father was a deputy when I was a kid and I was taught how difficult a job it can be. My father was very good about conveying to me the importance of respecting anyone who's job it is to ensure your safety. I was taught to always give the authority the benefit of the doubt, and I tend to do so even more than I do for everyone else.

Some people are saying the police were being respectful and the demonstrators were out of line. While I agree for the most part, the body slamming and choking is excessive. The way the law enforcement officers handled the situation appeared quite over the top to me.

There's also the point that still stands: This was a peaceful protest of laws the protesters feel are unjust. The police are supposed to be in place to help us be safer as a society. Does stopping a dance in protest serve that end?

More of The Story

The Real Issue

The whole thing took place because there is a law saying that it is not okay to dance in the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Call me crazy, I don't think Thomas Jefferson would stand for such a thing. We are supposed to be the land of the free. Our Constitution was founded on the idea that so long as what we do does not harm another, we are free to do it.

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." – Thomas Jefferson

Adam Kokesh, and the other dancers here, are calling into question the rights of the judicial system to outlaw dancing in a public space. This act, while offensive to some, is certainly hurting no one. They're not defacing property. They're not causing injury to anyone. The worst that can be said is they are being disrespectful. (Given Jefferson's own take on public disobedience, I would question even that much.) Even so, if they are being disrespectful, isn't that the point of the amendment? Freedom of expression, not for the ideas that are popular, but for all ideas? And especially the ideas that are unpopular?

Is that not the point?

New Protest

I ended this article before saying, "In response to the arrests, the demonstrators in question have committed to going back on June 5, 2011 to dance in protest."

Not only did the protest happen, more people showed up and took part. I'll put the video below. This time, the protest went peacefully and no one was arrested. There was a larger group and while the police were there, they watched on and retained a watchful distance.

Not only did this protest take place here, at the Jefferson Monument, but around the world. People danced in other places it is illegal, and just to show solidarity. I've put in a video below with Adam talking about this as well.

At the Monument

Adam Talking About the Second Protest

I still feel this whole event is relevant because if we don't safeguard our freedoms, we lose them. As the old saying goes, "freedom is not free." We need to stand up for our rights, and perspective to do so is important. Whether or not these events are appropriate ways to stand up for our rights, it's important to understand the ways in which people express that need.

© 2011 kwade tweeling


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