I was saddened to read in CounterPunch.org that Kevin Zeese had passed. Kevin was a constant, energetic presence in Washington DC area politics at the local, state and national levels. What I liked most about him was his hearty laugh, his spontaneous enthusiasm for radical politics and his genuine tolerance for differences of opinion.
We first became friends when he was working on drug policy reform in the 1980s. In conversation, he cheerfully rebuked me for pessimism about the prospects of ending drug prohibition. He was far less cynical–and far more prescient–than I was.
In 2011, Kevin debriefed me on his strategies while anchoring an Occupy DC site at Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue. He fed people. He tutored people. He comforted people. He held his ground on behalf of the 99 percent for months. Then the cops moved in.
The last time I saw Kevin was in May 2019 when he let me into the occupied Venezuela Embassy in Washington. I asked him about the optics of a group of North American solidarity activists occupying a Latin American embassy without any Venezuelan supporters. He told me he was doing what he believed in, regardless of whether others were willing to risk joining him. I couldn’t fault him for that.
One of his friends put it well:
Kevin and his partner in recent years Margaret Flowers combined art, civil resistance, music, journalism, radio, and coalition building to cross issue areas and energize. Losing Kevin is a horrible blow, but nobody can say he didn’t put his time to good use. Nobody can say that if thousands followed his lead we wouldn’t have a world transformed. Nobody can say that he didn’t make a major difference, exposing injustice and changing public policy and culture for the better.