Of all things, the tiny, archer-slit windows of this gargantuan building stood out first amid a pale, grey stone exterior. Behind those windows were lives. There were children at home, cancer to treat, college loans to be paid and so many other circumstances that drift by us on our radio-filled commute to work. There are people behind those windows and not all of them are guilty.
Accused of interfering in the ability of the Park Rangers to do their job and resisting arrest, both N.A. Poe and Adam Kokesh have been imprisoned at the Federal Detention Building at 700 Arch St. They participated in the Smoke Down Prohibition V event: N.A. Poe as the organizer along with Philly NORML in sponsorship of activism in marijuana law reform. Adam Kokesh had not even smoked any marijuana at the time of 4:20 PM, when Federal Park Rangers descended into the crowd and took out Kokesh and Poe in cuffs.
Adam, a former Marine, held high against the back of the knee kicks of the officers. They tried to bring him to his knees, but his integrity stood ground. He had his arms lifted in a "surrender" motion and he was backing up along with them. If any dignity to his training, two Federal Park Rangers could not bring a former Marine to his knees.
N.A. Poe had just lit a cigarette and the Park Rangers came at him while also ganging up on Ed Forchion, aka: New Jersey Weedman. According to confidential sources, what appeared to be a higher ranking officer, outfitted in a bullet-proof vest, told the officers around Ed to, "Let him go," to which Ed walked out without arrest. Hundreds of people witnessed this event and many got footage of it. Poe apparently ran up to NJ Weedman prior to being gripped up by Park Rangers. Poe was yanked back by an officer and Poe proceeded to dodge and block in a frantic hope to escape what was going to happen.
The Park Rangers got their men.
Since the 18th, they have also held their men; OUR men who we want back at OUR shoulders and at OUR podiums. That is why many came to witness the event of the Initial Hearing of both of them.
We sat opposite each other and besides ourselves. We glanced. We stretched. We waited. It was a cold environment; polished marble, hard pew-style seating and all the Boot of nearly three-hundred years of tradition lodged firmly betwixt our buttocks at the moment. No electronic devices were allowed in the court room, so hence, there are no pictures of the pair at their current states of respective fortitude. Kokesh and Poe were sights we all wanted to see. See AND share. Unfortunately, phones and devices were checked at the gate.
Roughly five minutes to 1:30 PM, we were invited into the court. It was small yet had all the essentials of a court room. We waited for roughly ten minutes for Government officials representing the Federal Government in the case to show as well as the Federal Defense Attorney and others. There was chat in the "peanut gallery" over this case. It wasn't the typical Initial Hearing, I'm sure. In ways, unfortunately, it was.
As the Judge entered, we all stood and greeted him, awaiting his "you may be seated" as though we were in church responding to a Pastor. He sat down and addressed a man who had filled out paperwork in Pre-Trial disclosures. He looked to be in civilian clothing and represented by the female Federal Defense Attorney present. After he was dismissed, we saw a much missed face: Adam Kokesh was walked by a Federal Marshall gripping his arm to his seat as Defendant.
Adam's resolve the entire time was steely: his eyes glimmered with righteous purpose. His replies were simple nods of his heads behind a chiseled grin. When the Judge gave him his two recommendations concerning his rights, it was reiterated that if he did not have council, one could be appointed for him. It was also stated that, "anything you say or do can be used against you." Adam must have taken that to heart.
Sticking firmly by his right afforded in the Bill of Rights, Kokesh did not answer when the Judge spoke to him asking if he understood.
"Can you hear me?" Said the Judge.
The judge reiterated that council would be provided and asked if Adam would like said council. He said nothing again, so the Judge beckoned the Fed. Defense Attorney, Felicia Sarner, to give Mr. Kokesh coucil. Adam again smiled and nodded a bunch at the Defense Attorney, but it was to no end. Adam wasn't talking.
At this point, council intervened and requested a pause to speak with Adam. More nodding, no words. Along came Federal Defense Attorney Felicia Sarner. Ms. Sarner made it clear afterwards that her office has been appointed the case and that she may not necessarily be his lawyer. For the time though, she was doing all she could to break through to him.
When the trial moved to an issue of whether Adam was going to be released, the acting Federal Official representing the Government on behalf of the Parks and Recreation Services argued that his "noncompliance" was an issue and that a hold order be placed for 72 hours until a Detention and Probable Cause Hearing. Thursday at 1:30 PM. Apparently Kokesh has been giving EVERYONE the silent treatment - even going as far as to not answer to Pre-Trial screening questions. Click. The gavel went down. Adam went out. Poe was following Kokesh right afterwards.
Poe was released from handcuffs at the Defendant's chair. The Judge went through the spiel again.
It was the same as Adam's charge. Neither Poe nor Kokesh were charged with a marijuana related offense. They were only assessed a charge of interfering with the Park Ranger's ability to perform their duties.
Poe looked a bit pale. He was either distant or very resistant to questions from the Judge. When asked if he would like to take council, Poe stared out bleakly and said nothing for several seconds. After a second round of the Judge's same phrasing, Poe blurted out "Sure". Rather than appoint Poe Ms. Sarner, the Judge appointed him Attorney Borden who was not present. When the Government had their opportunity to chime in on whether conditional release were an option, detainment was recommended for Poe as well. Reasoning behind Poe's detainment was a bit different.
Claims of extreme drug abuse came forward. The Federal Parks and Services Official went as far as to say that rehab may be ordered before the trial can even begin. Immediately the Judge agreed and banged. With that bang, Poe went off.
"Are you fucking SERIOUS? That's horrendous. You know it is, it's HORRENDOUS."
Poe was shackled back up and led back to a grim grey world of horrors unknown. It seems as though the pair lost today, but the battle is far from over. Come Thursday at 1:30 PM, Poe will also be back for a Detention and Probable Cause Hearing.
It is important to point out that when reading the charges against the two, the Judge consistently stated that they were "willfully obstructing, resisting or interfering with a Federal Law Enforcement agent, namely, Park Services."
In 18 USC § 118, The Interference with Certain Protective Functions line reads:
Any person who knowingly and willfully obstructs, resists, or interferes with a Federal law enforcement agent engaged, within the United States or the special maritime territorial jurisdiction of the United States, in the performance of the protective functions authorized under section 37 of the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 2709) or section 103 of the Diplomatic Security Act (22 U.S.C. 4802) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.
This statute is not confirmed to be their charge, nor their only charge, however, phrasing that the Judge used in court corresponded perfectly to the line, "willfully obstructed, resisted or interfered with..." so at very least, this code should be brought to everyone's attention.
All in all, a year in prison and a fine. Federal "Pound Me In The A--" Jail, too - to take a quote from "Office Space". Not a pleasant environment. We will continue to cover and protest the arrest of these two men and we will work to keep Justice alive in Philadelphia.