Exclusive Interview: Adam Kokesh Opens Up About Jail Time & 2020 Presidential Bid


“Don’t make me regret this.”

These were the words uttered by a judge to libertarian activist Adam Kokesh, right before releasing him from prison on November 6th.

Now Kokesh has his freedom back… Temporarily, at least.

He was initially arrested in July for putting a video online of himself loading a shotgun in D.C.’s Freedom Plaza.

D.C. gun laws are some of the strictest in the U.S. As reported by ABC News, “The District has a litany of laws on the books that make it more difficult to obtain some firearms, impossible to obtain others, and illegal to carry any loaded gun in the city.” Just being in D.C. with a loaded firearm, even if it is legally registered, is a violation of the law.

On July 9, not even a week after producing and uploading his video, Kokesh’s home was raided by a SWAT team. He spent over 120 days in jail with no bond, no bail, and no trial. 57 of those days were spent in solitary confinement.

On November 6th, Kokesh pled guilty to carrying a rifle or shotgun, possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition. He also pled guilty to possession of marijuana in Washington, D.C. He was subsequently released from jail and is currently awaiting his sentencing on January 17. He faces up to six years behind bars.

Although Kokesh is out of jail for now, he said his time behind bars was “humbling.”

“The first place they took me was the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center,” he said. “It was a borderline torturous situation. I was in a tiny cell without a mattress — all concrete. There was a light on 24/7 and it was too cold to sleep, since all they gave me to wear was a t-shirt and shorts.”

Kokesh’s 57 days in that cell were unforgettable. “The room they put me in was absolutely tiny,” he said. “There wasn’t even enough room to do squats or push-ups.”

The worst part of solitary confinement? “Isolation. All I had were the walls to stare at and that was intense.”

Eventually the activist was taken out of solitary confinement and transferred to a D.C. jail, where he was put in general population. “For the last two months I was sent to a correctional facility where I was corrected and I was treated — in no way whatsoever,” Kokesh said. “They put me with a big group of guys. This is supposed to be one of the toughest jails in the country, but a lot of people there knew my story and were actually big fans.”

Kokesh said he does not believe his treatment was extra harsh for political reasons, as some have surmised. He said, “The raid on my home was definitely politically motivated. But there was nothing in my treatment in jail that was harsh or unusual… It was a really humbling experience in a lot of ways. As challenging as my experience was, there are a lot of guys dealing with much worse in there.”

Despite weathering a few tough months, don’t expect Kokesh to drop off the map or back down with regards to his activism.

If anything, he has more of a reason to remain politically involved now, after experiencing what he believes is government corruption firsthand. He said, “We know that if you live in America, a no-knock raid is a possibility at anytime, for anybody. I was not expecting to have my home raided the way that it was [as a result of the video]. I thought the worst case scenario was that I would be arrested, booked, charged, and then released. Not that I would get kicked around, guns pointed at me, and flash banged.” (Read details of his home raid and arrest.)

Kokesh continued, “I do feel like it’s kind of silly for me to have been so naïve to think that I could get a fair trial and to think I wouldn’t be bullied. It’s certainly been an eye-opening experience…. I am absolutely still going to be involved in activism. I plan to be as aggressive as I possibly can.”

Aggressive, indeed — Kokesh is so committed to changing the system, that he has announced a 2020 presidential bid.

“This next year I plan to launch my 2020 presidential campaign,” he said. “The more that government screws up between now and then, the more people will be on board with this. I have one goal, one simple platform: to dissolve the federal government entirely and return all authority to the states.

“A lot of libertarians recognize the problem and a lot of libertarians want to address the problem. The answer to achieving a truly free stateless society is localization. If you don’t like the policies in one area, you can leave. In a truly free society, you would still have things that look like city governments, but they would be based on private property and association. You can have a transition by abolishing the federal government, then state government, then city government.”

Wherever Kokesh’s ends up in the future – a jail cell or the oval office (or both) – one thing is for sure: he is a person of strong principle who is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. Even if you do not agree with Kokesh’s beliefs or way of doing things, this fact cannot be denied.

Kokesh is deeply grateful for the support he received while in jail, and would like to thank everyone who donated to his legal defense fund. If you want to make a donation to Adam’s cause, you can do so here. We will keep you up-to-date on his situation as news breaks.


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