On Attending a July 4th Open Carry Protest in Carson City

Resistance and Obedience

 

I was extra careful in the morning not to make any noise, and even ground coffee beans the night before, while my roommate was out.  I moved to Reno just four days ago, to a shared apartment I found on Craigslist.  I didn’t want him waking up, to have to explain: “I’m going to a protest in Carson City, to like, pledge an oath of resistance and demand that the governor of Nevada stop cooperating with the federal government.”

Carson City is about a 25 minute drive from Reno, if you obey the alternating 65 and 70 MPH speed limits, which most people don’t, despite seemingly ever-present speed traps.  The mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe will be to your right, along with, I suppose, the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range expanding indefinitely into the distance, though you’ll drive through a mostly flat expanse, prone to wildfires, that I think of as good for raising grass fed cattle, bouldering, and shooting shotguns.

I parked in a garage next to the Nevada State Library and Archives, provided free to the public by a government that I was, “in the long run,” here to disband.

By 8:55 had I circled the campus containing the Capitol building and various other state government structures, looking for anyone that seemed like they may be planning to raise an upside down American flag that morning.

All I saw were two cop cars, parked in a restricted access drive, that looked like they had been parked overnight, not rushed in per notification of a protest, dramatically parked at odd angles.

I kept circling the park in hopes that some gathering had formed at a different building.  By 9:45, I was in the act of giving up, when, walking in the sun along Stewart Street, in front of the state library, I saw a Subaru with a Gary Johnson 2012 bumper sticker pull into the public parking garage.

I saw a twenty-something girl walking towards the car, coming from around the Nevada State Legislature building (the opposite side of the Capitol), wearing skinny jeans and a cowboy hat with an indiscernible amount of irony.

I found that in front of the Legislative building, two clusters of protestors had formed.  Closer to the street were two men with black t-shirts and rifles over their shoulders; one of them had what seemed to be a refurbished, “fuck the British” antique, and the other, a man I recognized from the internet, had what seemed to me, as a person with little gun knowledge, an assault rifle.

I positioned myself in a circle containing the other protestors, slightly aloof, in acknowledgement that I was a newcomer.  The Chief of Police was talking to them.  I heard the words “we weren’t notified” and “we’re expecting a lot of tourists” and “so long as you don’t interfere with traffic.”

The Chief next approached the men with rifles.  I heard the word “licensed” and saw a lot of agreeable body language.

I introduced myself first to “Harry,” who I guessed was in his early twenties.  I’m 6’2” and I thought Harry was unnaturally tall.  He wore a black polo shirt tucked into tight Wrangler jeans.  I noticed he was carrying a pistol, openly, on his waist, and found it amusing to think Harry could knock me out with one punch and shoot me in the head in a matter of seconds.

Across from Harry stood another young male wearing a skinny tie and a fedora.  He had a name I knew I would never be able to remember; just that it started with a “G” and had various “R’s” and maybe “L’s.”  He was from Belarus, which vaguely registered in my mind as “Eastern European.”

“G_” seemed excited by the Murray Rothbard shirt I was wearing, and forgiving that I had never read more than 50 pages of Man, Economy, and State, his treatise on economics which is considered something of a pillar in “The Austrian School.”

We were approached by a middle-aged man with a “NASCAR-esque” pony tail.  “James” said he was here because the Republican Party sent him an email.  James said he wasn’t sure, exactly, who organized this event, but that he had heard, perhaps in that email, that there would be a second amendment protest, so he thought he’d show up.

Harry told James that the collection gathered would be loosely affiliated, that he heard about the protest through Reddit, that he was here for the “Restore the Fourth” protest, though, also had heard about an open carry protest, and decided to bring his pistol.

I felt it was my turn to explain why I was here.  I said that I heard about the protest through Adam Kokesh’s podcast.  James and Harry looked at me blankly.  I said, “Adam Versus the Man?  He called it, ‘The Final American Revolution,’ is what he called it.”

Both James and Harry redirected their stare towards the ground.

I was the weirdo.

G_, as a seeming non sequitur, as if he hadn’t listened to anything we just discussed, said the organizer of the event, from Reddit, would be returning in a second, along with G_’s wife, and “some other things.”

The Organizer and G_’s wife “Mindy” returned with 20 well-made signs, which The Organizer had stayed up until approximately 2:00 AM making.

I picked out a sign that said, “WARNING THIS AREA UNDER 24 HOUR SURVEILLANCE,” with the words “THIS AREA” over a graphic representation of America.

Freedom is Slavery

I flipped through the remaining signs, all of which were relevant to the fourth amendment, to NSA spying.  I looked over at the man with the assault rifle, who I knew as Tactical Tony.

About two months ago, Adam Kokesh announced he was organizing an armed march on Washington for the Fourth of July, of which he wrote, “This will be a non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent. Should we meet physical resistance, we will peacefully turn back, having shown that free people are not welcome in Washington.”

Kokesh is what I call a “non-Republican libertarian.”  His current path of activism, being an ex-Marine, started with the Iraq Veterans Against the War, but his “acts of defiance” have expanded from anti-war protests to challenging “all unjust authority.”  He was, perhaps most famously, “body slammed” by a police officer for intentionally dancing in front of the Jefferson Memorial, which is, apparently, an illegal place to dance.

But like “many” former Ron Paul supporters, his political believes have “evolved” from being anti-war and pragmatically small-government, to being a self-described “voluntaryist” (you may find the term “anarcho-capitalist” more readily decipherable).

A few weeks after announcing the Open Carry March on Washington, Kokesh was specifically arrested, out of a crowd, at the Smoke Down Prohibition in Philadelphia.  Kokesh did not smoke marijuana or possess any on his physical body at the event, or at least he says he did not and there’s no apparent evidence to the contrary.  He was still charged with assaulting a federal officer and held in jail for about a week, until the charges were reduced to violations, which he claims he refused to sign and acknowledge to no apparent consequence.

Upon his release, Kokesh called off the armed march, to be replaced by The Final American Revolution, a series of general protests in all 50 state capitals, with an armed, open carry element entirely optional for each individual.  The only centralized plan was to be a blown bullhorn, raising of an upside down American flag, and the recitation of a pledge of resistance.

Tactical Tony, per his YouTube channel, was disappointed about the change.  His “line had already been crossed.”

I introduced myself to Tony, said I recognized him from the internet, and thanked him for trying to organize people.  Tony had made several attempts on The Final American Revolution: Carson City Facebook event page to provide car pools for other potential Vegas participants.  To my knowledge, Tony was the only Adam Versus the Man listener to make the eight hour drive from Las Vegas to Carson City.

He seemed genuinely appreciative that I thanked him, as if he were a struggling writer just trying to get published somewhere other than his own personal blog, which gets two to ten unique visitors per day, the “two” being hits he generated both from his personal and work computers.

Despite knowledge of his YouTube videos warning of coming martial law, despite having what I recognized as a Three Percenters flag draped around his neck, despite having an assault rifle on his back, Tactical Tony seemed harmless and happy in person.

Tony thanked me for bringing my guys, nodding his head towards G_ and the Reddit people, and returned to talking to his friends, whom had grown to a group of approximately six, though still only two armed.

At this point, I strongly suspected there would be no bullhorn or inverted flag or pledge and felt relieved.  These men had come with their families, with wives that seemed potentially bored, and children running around (with toy guns).

I felt relieved that, throughout the day, there seemed to be no chanting, arguments, or grand expressions of righteous anger.  In my memory, anytime a car drove by, each individual protestor would smile and wave a flag or a sign and sometimes the cars would honk and sometimes they’d shout something snarky but most of the time they would slow down a bit and look confused and speed up a bit.

There were three general camps of protestors: the Tactical Tony collective, the Reddit people, and [miscellaneous].

The miscellaneous protestors were subsumed by the Reddit people, as evidenced by James, who was here for the open carry but held a Restore the Fourth sign given to him by The Organizer.  There was, however, one curious old gentleman, in a pale blue button-down shirt and khakis that would blend in with no one.

This old man kept stretching these long signs out for what seemed like an hour.  Finally, with the help of Tactical Tony, he strung one sign up against a row of poles used for hanging flowers.  It read: “OBAMA CRIME SCENE / CRIME SCENE / CRIME SCENE.”

Approximately fifteen minutes later, the old man rolled another sign out in front of us, face down.

“Maybe,” he said, “Maybe if you young guys hold this sign up spread out every eight feet or so, we’ll have a little photo op here.”

One of the armed men assumed the left side of the sign, followed by me, Harry, a string of other men, and the old man himself off to the right.

“What’s this sign say?” Harry asked me.

“I don’t know.”

Harry glanced over the banner.

“What’s infowars.com?”

“Have you heard of Alex Jones?” I asked.

“I think I’ve heard the name.”

“Well..it’s his like…website.”

“Is it good?  Or is it weird?”

“It’s…uh…weird.”

Harry promptly put down his portion of the banner, picked up his desert camo backpack, and walked away.  He circled around next to Mindy, who had momentarily put down her signs and stepped behind a tree.

I peaked over to read the full banner.  It said: “WAKE UP AMERICA * THE END GAME IS NEAR WWW.INFOWARS.COM.”

I was standing right in the middle of INFOWARS, for all of Carson City to see, for any of my coworkers that just so happened to be driving by.  But I felt like I couldn’t let the old man down and drop the banner.  I tried to kind of stand side ways and hold the sign over my face, hoping no one would recognize me, or at least not recognize both me and Infowars.

Eventually, though not before I started thinking “at least this will help my grip-strength,” the old man gestured that we could put the sign down.  I backed away and went over to Harry and Mindy.

“Oh my god, is this Alex Jones thing finally done now?” Mindy asked.

Seeing that it was, she picked up her signs, stepped from behind the tree, and said, “I mean, I’m a libertarian, but I don’t believe in lizard people.”

Instinctively, I suppressed the urge to tell her she was thinking of David Icke, that Alex Jones, though he frequently screams about the globalists and the New World Order, though a 9/11 truther, did not believe in reptilians or giant wasps or, to my knowledge, any paranormal conspiracies.

Towards the end of the protest, G_ and The Organizer came around with a camera, asking everyone why they were here, individually, without explaining what the video would be used for.

I found myself saying that the federal government, or the executive agencies loosely affiliated as the federal government, had become a monolithic entity that could no longer be controlled by voting, that I felt many Americans probably thought the same, and that I was protesting to let them know they weren’t alone.

The Tactical Tony collective left around 1:00, leaving 10 to 15 high school through twenty-somethings, i.e. the Reddit people, politely lifting and tilting their signs whenever a cluster of cars approached, so as to make them more readable.

There were no “incidents” that day.  The local police didn’t even seem to monitor the protest, despite having maybe a peak of 30 human beings and at least 3 guns, including an assault rifle.

At separate, staggered times, people put down their signs and left, as if first going through a long, internal monologue, concerning their role as an individual in society, whether they had sufficiently “pushed” society in the “right” direction, and whether if they were to leave at that moment, they could perhaps miss the opportunity to create some novel event ushering in an intellectual/spiritual renaissance.

I left around 2:00, smirking, noting that there were under 10 people left, pleased with myself for thinking that no one may remember we were here, except the NSA, who will presumably have stored the GPS location and timestamp of all of our cell phones in a database, indefinitely.

 

Posted in Barely Interesting Non-Fiction, Matt
       

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