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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Footloose: Libertarians Arrested for Dancing at The Jefferson Memorial

A group of libertarian activists-- including Adam vs. The Man host, Adam Kokesh-- were arrested today for dancing at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. to protest a recent court decision which actually upheld a ban on dancing at the memorial to one of America's most outspoken advocates for liberty and free expression.

They caught some incredible video footage of their confrontation with police, which is embedded below.

When an officer comes up to the group and asks them who their leader is, they laugh and point to the statue of Thomas Jefferson in the center of the memorial. Then after telling the libertarians that they can't dance, the officer turns to see a couple embracing and slowly swaying back and forth. At the officer's signal, two police immediately descend on the embracing couple and pull them apart, placing handcuffs on their wrists to arrest them:

By and large, the libertarian movement's filmed confrontations with police are quite frankly pretty lame and unable to draw much sympathy from this hardened, anti-police state libertarian, much less the general public. Participants-- usually from somewhere in New Hampshire-- all too often instigate conflicts with police unnecessarily over some awfully petty disagreements like the libertarian's unwillingness to give their name, or sometimes even over the libertarian actually trespassing on private property and refusing to leave in an expeditious fashion, like one embarrassing video I recently saw.

All too often, when there's no need for confrontation and no clear principle at stake, the libertarian will deliberately continue to escalate an encounter with the police until they're arrested, and then self-righteously behave like a martyr before getting their friends to go on the Internet and beg for money to give to the state to bail them out-- not quite what Gandhi or Thoreau did and taught.

But this video above is different. There was an important and deeply symbolic principle involved that most viewers could sympathize with. These libertarians were dancing at a memorial to one of liberty's most cherished defenders of free expression and resistance to tyranny. The setting was perfect. The stand they took against a ban on dancing was symbolically relevant and important. Their execution was excellent. Anybody watching the video could see who the "good guys" were and who the "bad guys" were.

Nobody sympathizes with a snotty hippy mouthing off to a police officer until he's arrested. Everybody watching this video can sympathize with a couple embracing in front of a memorial and swaying together as two uniformed thugs forcefully pull them apart and handcuff them. Everyone can sympathize with a group of young people dancing and actually being arrested for it.

To Adam Kokesh, Andrew Sharp, and my other friends and colleagues who participated in today's protest, my hat is off to all of you!

The libertarian activists are being held at Anacostia Station (District Five) - 1901 Anacostia Drive S. E., Washington, D.C. 20019 - If you feel so inclined, call (202) 610-8703 and demand their release. You can also call the US Park Police at 202-610-7500.

Wes Messamore,
Editor in Chief, THL
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