Peoria, IL- A Twitter account that mocked Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis resulted in a police raid of a West Bluff district house and an arrest for marijuana possession.
In early March Ardis learned of a Twitter account, @Peoriamayor, that someone else had created. This account had been making controversial and vulgar tweets- supposedly pretending to be Ardis- although the tweets could be considered satire because of their comedic, albeit profane, tone. Twitter suspended the account because it had violated their policy that states parody accounts must be labeled clearly.
Ardis ordered police to track down the person behind it, citing the account as “false personation of a public official”, which is a class A misdemeanor in Illinois.
A warrant was obtained to seek the subscriber’s information from Twitter on March 14th. After Twitter handed over the information they were seeking, police were then able to obtain another warrant to identify the Comcast customer address where the tweets had been made.
A warrant to search the home of the Comcast customer was then given, and the search was conducted April 15th. Several police officers, up to seven, charged through the home and seized all Internet-enabled digital devices that were inside.
The raid didn’t result in any arrests in connection to the fake Twitter account. Instead, Jacob Elliott, 36, a resident of the home and the Comcast account holder for the address, ended up being arrested for possession of “30 to 500 grams of marijuana”.
Elliot wasn’t the perpetrator of the fake Twitter account; the man who had been behind it was his roommate, Jon Daniel. Daniel was questioned, but not arrested for impersonating Ardis on Twitter.
Elliot’s girlfriend, Michelle Pratt, was one of the residents brought down for questioning. “They just asked me about the Twitter account, if I knew anything about it,”she said. “They brought me in like I was a criminal.”
Libertarian activist Adam Kokesh has been in jail for 114 days (92 of which he was held by the feds) with no bond, no bail, and no trial. 57 of those days were in solitary confinement.
Clearly, this Kokesh fellow is a dangerous threat to society… Right?
Nonsense, say many of those who know Kokesh well. In fact, they argue that Adam Kokesh is anything but dangerous.
Let’s start with the facts: On July 4, Kokesh uploaded a video of himself loading a shotgun in Freedom Plaza in the District of Columbia. With the Capital building behind him, the activist said as he loaded his firearm, “We will not be silent; we will not obey; we will not allow our government to destroy our humanity. We are the final American Revolution. See you next Independence Day.”
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. D.C. laws also ban gun owners from carrying firearms openly or concealed in public.
On July 9, not even a week after producing and uploading his video, Kokesh’s home was raided by a SWAT team.
Jeffrey Phillips, Kokesh’s manager, said, “Five different government agencies came to Adam’s home. They had several helicopters, something like 30 police units. They flash banged his house.”
Carey Wedler, Kokesh’s girlfriend, was at his home at the time of the raid. She was in the shower when it began.
“I was washing my hair in the shower when I heard Adam scream, ‘The police are here!’ I threw a skirt on and left the bathroom… there was smoke everywhere because [officers] had thrown a flash grenade,” she said. “I walked to the top of the stairs. They pointed guns at me and told me to put my hands up. Cops were streaming into the house and you could hear helicopters above.”
The next few hours were a hellish daze for Wedler, Kokesh, and his six employees who were also in the home during the raid.
Wedler said, “There were about eight of us total. Activists would come stay with him, and he would give them free rent in exchange for work. The officers cuffed us — we kept asking why they were arresting us and they wouldn’t answer. Adam kept asking for a warrant and they refused to show it.”
The cuffed group was forced to the ground for hours as the raid took place.
“Most of the cops covered up their badges. It was so shady,” Wedler said.
She also recalls how harshly the cops treated them. “One of our guys had his cell phone and was trying to record what was happening. Some of the cops noticed, pushed me out of the way, then punched the guy in the head,” she said. “At another point Adam asked to use the restroom and he got kicked.”
Wedler had asked to use the restroom repeatedly throughout the incident — it was “that time of month” for her. After asking officers if she could go to the bathroom several times an “officer told me a female officer was coming to escort me to the restroom. She never came. Out of 30 police officers there, not one was a woman.”
Finally, after several hours, some male officers took her to the upstairs bathroom. “Blood was dripping down my leg. All these male officers were watching me,” she said.
Officers claimed they found drugs in Kokesh’s home during the raid (“magic mushrooms”). The activist was arrested for possession of an illegal drug, and possession of an illegal drug while in possession of a firearm. The officers finally showed a warrant as Kokesh was being taken outside and put into a cruiser.
Wedler vehemently insists that Kokesh never used “shrooms.” She said, “I know that Adam doesn’t do shrooms. I can say, whatever they found, I never saw it in Adam’s house.”
Wedler claims she and her group watched officers carrying brown bags “full of matter” into the basement before emerging with the illegal drugs. “Officers kept coming in and out of the basement. We literally watched some of them carrying brown ‘evidence bags’ with matter in them down into the basement.”
Phillips, who was not present during the raid, said the situation is “very odd.” He said, “The month previously Adam was arrested twice and got off because the state didn’t have a good enough case. The police hate him. This time, they knew they had to get him on something. So it is very likely that they actually planted mushrooms on him. When Adam made the D.C. video, he expected attention from police. We knew police were coming, so why would we leave drugs out? We had actually done a clean of the whole house because we expected police to show up.”
He also mentioned that “Adam has never even spoken about, nor does he like mushrooms.”
Wedler said that Kokesh’s house was left completely destroyed after the raid. Here are some images of the home after the police cleared out at 1am:
Kokesh’s story, which was already unusual enough, took another strange turn last week.
On Wednesday, his attorney, Peter Cooper, quit the case without giving a reason. Those close to Kokesh are shocked.
“Cooper is a buddy of Adam and represents him whenever he gets in D.C. trouble,” said Phillips. “There’s no reason for him to just leave other than [the feds] got to him. He was scared away by the government basically. The court appointed Adam a new lawyer who has no idea what he is getting himself into. They obviously do not want him to have a good lawyer, and we had a good lawyer.”
Wedler said, “I imagine we’ll find out why Cooper left later, but for now they can’t discuss it.”
Still, what frustrates both Wedler and Phillips more than anything is how harsh the police have been while dealing with Kokesh’s case.
Phillips said, “If you went to D.C. and shot someone, you’d probably get bail. They didn’t give Adam bail — and he didn’t threaten anyone or hurt anyone. He was only making a political statement.”
“While everyone may not agree with Adam’s way of doing things, he is and has always been very peaceful. He has never been a dangerous person,” said Wedler.
“As strong as Adam is, I talked to him yesterday and he didn’t sound very good,” said Phillips. “They could keep him for ten years if they wanted to. And they will — they want him out of the picture. They don’t have to explain themselves to anybody. They can do whatever they want.”
He concluded, “Adam is a modern day political prisoner. And we’re not supposed to have political prisoners in this country.”
*Editor’s note: Multiple attempts were made to contact Peter Cooper. If and when he returns our calls, this story will be subsequently updated.