A march on Washington with loaded rifles

A gun activist is planning a massive march on D.C., with participants' rifles illegally slung over their shoulders

Topics: Guns, Tea Party, Libertarianism, Washington, D.C., Editor's Picks,

Libertarian activist and radio host Adam Kokesh is hoping to get 1,000 people to march on Washington on July 4 — armed with loaded rifles. The plan, launched with a Facebook group today, is to gather on the Virginia side of the Potomac, where gun laws are lax, and then march across the bridge with loaded rifles slung over their shoulders into the District, where openly carrying weapons is generally prohibited.

“This will be a non-violent event,” the Facebook group warns, “unless the government chooses to make it violent.” Already, over 200 people have said they’ll attend the march. Here’s the message:

On the morning of July 4, 2013, Independence Day, we will muster at the National Cemetery & at noon we will step off to march across the Memorial Bridge, down Independence Avenue, around the Capitol, the Supreme Court, & the White House, then peacefully return to Virginia across the Memorial Bridge. This is an act of civil disobedience, not a permitted event. We will march with rifles loaded & slung across our backs to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated & cower in submission to tyranny. We are marching to mark the high water mark of government & to turn the tide. This will be a non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent. Should we meet physical resistance, we will peacefully turn back, having shown that free people are not welcome in Washington, & returning with the resolve that the politicians, bureaucrats, & enforcers of the federal government will not be welcome in the land of the free.

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Kokesh is a former Marine who was discharged in 2007 after violating the military’s code against engaging in political activity while in uniform. Kokesh was highly active in the antiwar movement after serving in Iraq, participating in numerous protests and getting arrested on occasion.

He started an anti-government radio show as the Tea Party picked up steam and was eventually picked up by RT, the news channel funded by the Russian government that is often critical of U.S. policy, where he promoted both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street in a worldview that some sociologists describe as “fusion paranoia,” a visceral anti-governmentalism that isn’t limited to typical left-right divides.

He ran into trouble when he endorsed Ron Paul in the 2012 election, which led to an FEC complaint and his termination from RT, though employees have told me privately that there were other, darker issues.

Since then, he’s taken his show “Adam vs. The Man” to the Internet, and seems to have become increasingly radicalized. “It’s time to abolish the US federal government,” he tweeted yesterday. Today he tweeted this:

Whether Kokesh actually goes through with his plan remains to be seen — he says he won’t do it unless 1,000 join him — but the protest may strike a chord with gun fanatics, who stage “open carry” protests across the country to fight gun control laws. There was one in Washington in 2010, but those rallying inside District lines did not actually carry weapons.

Kokesh did not immediately return an email seeking an interview, but we will update if he does.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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