Adam Kokesh is a libertarian activist with wide-ranging interests. He’s run for congress. He has interrupted a Republican party convention. He had his own US cable TV show on a Russian government network. He has 50,000 Facebook fans. He runs a popular independent online podcast and video show called Adam vs The Man. I’ve written about him before and I’m sure I will be writing about him again in the future.
On Saturday May 18 of this year, Adam was arrested by US park police in center city Philadelphia while speaking to a permitted rally. He was only speaking to the crowd. There is no sign that he was even engaging in civil disobedience. And yet he was carted away by local and federal goons and was charged with a fabricated felony that carries an 8-year maximum prison sentence.
This is when my agorist venture Shield Mutual, the agora’s first defense agency, went into action for Adam. But that’s not what I want to talk to you about. You can read our after-action report if you’re interested in seeing what we did for Adam.
I want to talk about the many lessons that have to be learned from Adam’s arrest and the subsequent 6-day standoff in Philadelphia.
- The federal government has unlimited mugging ability. They can mug anyone anytime they like for anything they like and lie about it however they like. (It happened to me, too.) And they can get away with it if we are not united in support of each other in a big way.
- You must be unabashedly radical. There is no sense in being a half-way libertarian. If you are going to be an activist, then you have to take your game to the wall without fear. The type of people who work in the government’s injustice system know fear when they see it and it only emboldens them. Adam is radical, ostensibly fearless and constantly taking his activism to new heights.
- Build a platform and a following. You must become marketing- and public-relations-savvy. A half-assed blog like this one is useless. It’s either all or nothing. If you are going to be an activist, if you are going to speak out, disobey, videotape and engage in other activism, you need to be well-known so that when the thugs come down on you, there will be a bloc of people who instantly know who you are, what you’re about and who care about you. This is the most important lesson. (Shield Mutual’s next service evolution will help our customers with precisely this.)
- Prepare yourself for prison. Every activist today is a dissident and dissidents always risk jail, sooner or later. When your moment comes, you need to be ready for it. Read about prison. Read what it’s like. Imagine yourself in that situation. Prepare for your family to continue daily life as usual when you are incommunicado in prison. Have procedures and scenarios in place with trusted friends and family. Make sure a conscious, courageous fellow activist is prepared to lead your public relations defense, like Shield Mutual. Prepare yourself mentally with a spiritual program such as religion, meditation or other great minds (Thoreau, Gandhi, Goldman, etc.).
- In the public relations arena, we have the advantage when it comes to court cases. While I was raising holy hell for Adam, as he was incommunicado in solitary confinement, the cops, judge, prosecutor and other bureaucrats were effectively gagged. They can’t speak out on pending legal matters like you and I can. I issued press releases that presented the narrative of Adam’s arrest from a point-of-view that benefited him. The state goons were powerless to reply. They have the advantage on the field of arms. We have the advantage on the field of truth. We must exploit this advantage to the max.
- Money is a critical component of our struggle. When we raised more than $6,000 for Adam’s legal defense in under 11 hours, I feel certain that federal officials were watching. I feel certain that it impacted their decision-making process. In the liberty community, money is a sore topic at times because people are hyper-paranoid about being ripped off. Or they think it’s immoral or gauche to involve money in a political cause. But everything requires money and money is power, whether that jives with your sensibilities and ideology or not. It’s a fact. Generous funding makes the difference between hippies that can be abused at will and an organized political movement that leaves no option but to be taken seriously.
- Your active participation is required. When we support each other with something as simple as a phone call and $20, we are powerful. Without the well-attended call flood and the generous legal fund donations, Adam might have rotted in that icy prison indefinitely. The brave people who made noise constantly in front of the prison and the federal courthouse also played a large role here. They were a spectacle and I guarantee you that they slowed down the machinery of injustice while they were there. And that really sticks in the decision-makers’ craws.
Adam played a high stakes game and won. He showed the court his internal fortitude by refusing pre-trial release. This surprised the magistrate judge so much so that he claimed that Adam was his own jailer. Adam was fortunate that he already had a huge following of people who stuck with him. The phone calls, the press releases, the fundraising – it all showed that Adam was strong not just on the inside but also on the outside of that prison. Adam got federal felony charges dismissed. That is no small feat. We need to study this incident, draw lessons from it and apply them in our own lives so that we’re ready when our time comes.
Don’t release video that could be used as evidence against you or an ally in a pending legal case, especially a criminal one. While I’m certain that Adam’s release of the below video helped his public relations, it may very well be used against N.A. Poe, a fellow activist who was arrested with him. Poe’s felony charges are still pending and he needs $10,000 to hire a lawyer but he’s only raised $3,200 so far. Please donate here what you can to his defense fund.