Saturday, June 04, 2011

Adam Kokesh's successful Dance Party


Today Adam Kokesh's Thomas Jefferson Memorial Dance Party was held. People came to DC from various states -- including California and South Carolina -- to dance for liberty and there were no arrests or incidents of police violence. (Adam Kokesh is pictured above, screen snap of the Russia Today report here.)

The Dance Party was in response to what took place last weekend. Scott Simon (NPR) writes of last weekend, "It is painful to watch the video taken by one of the dancers. They do not cease and desist when the police order them to stop dancing. The officers subdue them by squishing them on hard marble floors to clap them into handcuffs." It's apparently "painful" to write about as well since Scott Simon can only manage that the Park Police were "squishing them on hard marble floors" -- Adam Kokesh was body slammed onto the marble. The police officer picked Adam off the ground, lifted him into the air and slammed him down on the marble floor. Is "squish" even a damn verb? NPR's going to let Scott Simon make an ass out of the English language as well as out of NPR?

It was police brutality, pure and simple. If you don't have the guts to acknowledge that fact when you're watching the video of last week, you're really not up to pretending you're a 'reporter' anymore. If you sense of honesty or your own visual sense is so corrupted that you can watch that video and not clearly label it what it is (police brutality), then you've got not business ever again reporting because there's a huge problem -- maybe it's your judgment, maybe it's your senses, maybe it's your courage. But something has failed you and you need to inform your employers.

As the Associated Press notes, "Videos posted online show an officer with his hands around a protester’s throat. A demonstrator is also shown being slammed to the ground." If they're referring to the choke-hold, that was also done to Adam. See screen snap of Adam discussing the incident in front of footage of it on Adam's RT show Adam v. The Man.


Maybe the 'squishy' isn't the actions of the police but the cowardice of NPR for refusing to call out what is obvious to the eye?

An e-mail asked why I had focused on Adam as opposed to another male and then the e-mailer concluded, "Because you love Adam Kokesh." Actually, the reason I'm not focusing on the other one is I don't think there's a legal case. It's not as strong. (I'm not referring to Medea and Tighe.) In that instance, a man goes down and the police (one police officer) is involved in the incident.

However, so is another dancer. And the man who is taken down is taken down by the police officer and that other dancer. I have no idea what the other man was doing -- I think he was trying to link arms with the first man. (A fairly common move in protests when the police begin arresting.) But the other man doesn't help the first man with his actions and at least some of the yelling in pain from the first man appears possibly due to the other man's actions.

I've focused on Adam because it is very clear who is doing the violence (the police officer). I've ignored the other one because that second man ("the other man") muddies things up and I believe, watching the video (I wasn't present), a case can be made that police come over to that altercation to pull that "other man" away from the first man who is clearly in pain. I think, my opinion, a jury watching the video of that aspect of the incident would state that the other man contributed to any injury, inserted himself into something and his actions caused the first man pain and injury.

Is that what happened? I don't know. But, on video, that's how it would likely look to a jury. We focused on Adam because what the police did there was police brutality. I'm not going to waste my time attempting to raise awareness on a murky issue. The treatment of Adam is clear and it's the strongest case.

UPI has a photo of today's dancers here (photo by Kevin Dietsch). The Washington Post offers a photo of Bill O'Leary here. WTOP offers a photo gallery with four photos and a text report which includes a quote from participant Shaun Haugh, "The idea that you can't dance where you want to is something that would have driven him crazy."

Emily Babay (Washington Examiner) reports
they "skipped, swayed and shimmied" and that "U.S. Park Police officer cleared dozens from the memoria's rotunda and pushed the demonstrators to the memorial's steps, but no one was taken into custody." Tim Persinko (NBC Washington, link has text, photos and videos) reports:

[NBC Washington's] Tom Sherwood said most of the law enforcement was keeping a low profile, except for one officer, who stood watch carrying an assault rifle.
The dance party drew hundreds of spectators and dozens of dancers.
Police asked the gathered crowd to clear the rotunda shortly after 12 p.m, but around 20 remained, including a man wearing an oversized Thomas Jefferson head. Those who stayed inside the memorial boogied in front of Thomas Jefferson's statue, as the crowd chanted "TJ, TJ."

Three things on the above. Actually, four -- the man in the Jefferson head was Tighe Barry. Now to the three points.

1) Spectators? Adam clearly made the invitation to inside the Memorial for dancing and for those who were afraid -- due to last weekend's police violence -- to take part in dancing on the steps. I'm not sure how you'd count the participants outside the rotunda.

2) But I do see the press trying to (rightly) draw the line between participants and observers. In other words, if you danced, you were a participant. If you were an onlooker, you weren't. It's a very basic point and reality but one that US reporters and 'reporters' in Iraq willfully and willingly ignored to inflate the number participating in the march through the Sadr City section of Baghdad -- the march staged by Moqtada -- creating a false impression that's been wrongly picked by so many in the US [see "The teen idol demise of Moqtada al-Sadr (though the press keeps the home fires burning)" for more on the press drool over Moqtada's staged 'happening'.]

3) Stood watch with an assault rifle? Isn't that sort of over-reaction how we end up with, for example, the Kent State massacre? What a charming way for the Park Police to honor freedom and democracy and Thomas Jefferson . . . with an assault rifle at the ready to take down any dancers . . . forever.

Steven Nelson (Daily Caller) describes the "assault rifle" as a "machine gun." He also reports:

At noon, a crowd assembled on the steps to the monument, then entered the hall and circled the statue of Thomas Jefferson. A substantial number of reporters and photographers watched.
*Police closed the Jefferson Memorial slightly before 1 p.m. Saturday and ushered out a crowd that was challenging a ban on dancing inside the monument.*
No efforts were made to arrest the large group of dancers, but after a half hour, police announced that they were closing the monument and began to usher people to the exit.
As the monument was cleared of participants and press alike, several people remained, dancing gleefully in front of SWAT team members who had arrived.

That's all from Nelson's report but I've put an earlier sentence into the excerpt (the earlier sentence is set off with "*"s at the start and at the close).

I find it very interesting that The Daily Caller can report on today's event and has reported on what took place last weekend but The Progressive, The Nation, etc. all ignored what took place last weekend.

Russia TV reported on it. Video below and a partial transcript after it.

Gayane Chichakyan: Well this is what I saw, the crowd was dispersed, sort of pushed out of the Jefferson Memorial but dozens of people risked being arrested for just peacefully dancing at the memorial. Everyone had this fear that it could happen at any time. To many, it sounded like a joke in a country that preaches freedoms. You know, the First Amendment to the US Constitution explicitly protects freedom of assembly and actions that symbolically express a viewpoint if those actions are not harming anybody. And one could think, "What could be more harmless than dancing?" People who took part in this dance for freedom flashmob say they do it to remind of their Constitutional rights which they claim are being breached. Recently, there was a court decision specifically regarding the Thomas Jefferson Memorial that prohibited dancing there. That's what triggered the movement, if you will. Last week, a small group of people protested the decision with a silent dance at the Memorial, they were brutally arrested. One of them was an Iraq War veteran, civil rights activist Adam Kokesh who, as recently, also has his own show on RT. Just a week later, thousands of people, after the arrest, in different cities, by the way -- not just Washington, DC -- joined him and others to say no to police brutality. Take a listen.

Adam Kokesh: After everything else, after all the violations of our Constitution, after the trashing of the economy, after everybody who has suffered in this country under the bootheel of the police state, it's come down to dancing. If that's the only freedom we have left, we're going to come and enjoy it.

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