Poorly handled by the demonstrators, that is.
The above video splices together several perspectives on yesterday’s arrests at the Jefferson Memorial of Adam Kokesh and others who were there to demonstrate against restrictions on personal expression at the memorial site.
The BoingBoing crowd is making a lot of the way Kokesh is brought to the ground, which is a highly unfortunate distraction from the more important issue of “free speech zones” in modern America. You can skip forward into the video to about the 2:20 mark and see the two more physical arrests. The first is of an unidentified individual; the arrest starts out with little physicality until another individual runs in and attempts to pull the first man away from the officer. Both are taken down to the ground and restrained.
The third arrest is of Kokesh and starts around 3:00. Viewing from there and listening to the audio it’s clear that the officer first attempts to tell Kokesh to submit to arrest without touching him, then endeavors to turn him around and detain him. Kokesh ignores the requests, continues to walk away, then refuses to kneel. It’s at that point that the officer lifts him and throws him to the ground to restrain and arrest him.
The selectively edited highlight reel – James O’Keefe would be proud – doesn’t show the first man interfering with the other man’s arrest nor do you see the officer attempt to arrest Kokesh without violence. It’s hard to tell to what extent anyone is resisting against the officers once they’re prone; while they don’t get any limbs free it’s clear they were physically resisting before that point. They could be straining against the hold the officers have on they – it’s impossible to tell from the video.
I’m personally a big supporter of civil disobedience against unjust laws and I was all the way behind Kokesh and the others… till the second the officers attempted to arrest them. The law against peaceful non-disruptive demonstration is baloney, but it’s the current law of the land. Getting charged with it and fighting it – although this is pretty pointless since there’s already a case in play that may be further appealed above the circuit court level – is great, but resisting that arrest is not.
Changing the law and changing public opinion via non-violent demonstration and challenging the constitutionality of an arrest is fine, but the additional escalation in this circumstance is entirely on Kokesh and the other demonstrators. They had the opportunity to get arrested for that they believe in and show the world the status quo – the arrest of the couple gently swaying, for example, is a perfect demonstration of how silly this restriction is. Forcing the encounter to be violent by resisting arrest cheapens the whole thing and distracts from what should have been the core issue.
Kokesh and the others could have chosen to go limp and non-violently resist the arrest. Instead they made this mess. Too bad.