More than 900 people plan to sling loaded rifles across their backs and march across the National Mall on July 4 for a protest organized by an alumnus, who is calling the event a nonviolent act of “civil disobedience.”
Adam Kokesh, a libertarian radio host who holds a graduate degree from GW, wrote on the event’s Facebook page that the demonstration is meant to make a point “in the SUBTLEST way possible that we would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.”
D.C. law prohibits the open carrying of guns, and Kokesh wrote that the march is not a “permitted event.”
“Should we meet physical resistance, we will peacefully turn back, having shown that free people are not welcome in Washington,” he wrote, adding that any protester approached by authorities should “submit to arrest without resisting.”
The 31-year-old, who has a degree from GW’s Graduate School of Political Management, added that he expects the march to be nonviolent, “unless the government chooses to make it violent.”
Plans for the protest come weeks after a gun control bill failed in the Senate, which the National Rifle Association had staunchly opposed.
Protesters, both armed and unarmed, will meet at the National Cemetery and walk across the Memorial Bridge, down Independence Avenue, around the Capitol and Supreme Court buildings and past the White House, according to the Facebook page. Kokesh wrote that at least 10,000 people must sign on before June 1 for the march to happen.
Kokesh, who now runs the “Adam vs. The Man” on his YouTube channel, was one of seven students who launched the controversial poster campaign at the University in 2007. He helped create fliers that read “Hate Muslims? So do we!!!” in opposition to an upcoming conservative event, featuring activist David Horowitz, called Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.
“Anyone who bothered to read the whole thing got that point,” Kokesh said in an interview with The Hatchet then.
A former U.S. Marine, Kokesh became a member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War a few months before he helped organize the poster campaign. He graduated from the University in 2008, and has been arrested multiple times for protesting.
Kokesh had brought home a pistol from the war in 2004, stopping him from serving a second tour in Iraq. Kokesh was demoted from sergeant to corporal, and a military panel gave him a “general discharge under honorable conditions” in 2007 after he appeared at an anti-war demonstration in uniform.
Kokesh disrupted former presidential candidate John McCain’s speech during the Republican National Convention in 2008, holding a sign that read “McCain Votes Against Vets.”
He later ran for a New Mexico seat in the House of Representatives in 2010, backed by three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, but lost in the Republican primary.