Charges Dropped Against Gold Star Dad Arrested for Interrupting Biden’s State of the Union
Charges Dropped Against Gold Star Dad Arrested for Interrupting Biden’s State of the Union

By Katabella Roberts

Charges have reportedly been dropped against Steve Nikoui, the father of the late Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, after he was arrested for interrupting President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address earlier this month.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) confirmed that the charges against Mr. Nikoui have been dropped, according to Fox News.

The office of Brian Schwalb, the Democratic Attorney General in Washington, also told the publication that it had opted to not pursue charges against Mr. Nikoui.

The Epoch Times contacted Mr. Schwalb’s office for further comment but received none by press time.

Mr. Nikoui’s 20-year-old son was among 13 U.S. servicemembers killed when an ISIS-K suicide bomber detonated explosives near Abbey Gate terminal at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26, 2021.

His death occurred during a chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Years later, on March 8, the 51-year-old father was attending the State of the Union as a guest of Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) and was seated on the balcony of the House chamber when he interrupted President Biden’s speech by yelling “Abbey Gate” and “United States Marines,” referencing his son’s tragic death.

Gold Star Dad Charged

According to the D.C. Code, “it is unlawful for a person, alone or in concert with others, to engage in a demonstration in an area where it is otherwise unlawful to demonstrate and to continue or resume engaging in a demonstration after being instructed by a law enforcement officer to cease engaging in a demonstration.”

Following his comments, Mr. Nikoui was removed from the chamber and arrested by Capitol Police.

He was subsequently arrested and charged with misdemeanor protest of crowding, obstructing, or incommoding Congress after violating the D.C. Code, Capitol Police confirmed.

Speaking to a week after his arrest, Mr. Nikoui said he felt compelled to stand up and disrupt President Biden’s speech after he failed to mention the names of the soldiers killed near Abbey Gate.

“He knew that there were other Gold Star family members, he could’ve at least just said their names and this would have been done,” Mr. Nikoui said of President Biden.

A heckler, identified as Steve Nikoui, the father of the late Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, yells out as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address during a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 7, 2024. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

‘Total Disrespect’

Mr. Nikoui said President Biden’s failure to acknowledge those killed in the Kabul bombing was “just total disrespect” to him and the other parents of the soldiers who lost their lives during the explosion.

“I’ve waited three years, I paid $3,000 … and I’ve traveled 3,000 miles just to finally hear my son’s name in the State of the Union,” he said.

Multiple Republican lawmakers, including Mr. Mast—who is himself a military veteran—and Reps. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) had urged officials to drop the charges against Mr. Nikoui following his arrest.

“No father should have to bury his son, yet my State of the Union guest Steve Nikoui had to bury 2 because of Joe Biden’s failures,” Mr. Mast wrote on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on March 12. “To add insult to injury, Steve was ARRESTED for protesting Biden’s REFUSAL to even acknowledge his son. Biden’s America is dystopian.”

Both Mr. Waltz and Mr. Issa welcomed the news that charges were being dropped against the Gold Star father in separate statements on X, with Mr. Waltz calling it “great news” but condemning the fact that he was charged in the first place.

“He did nothing wrong. And this is the right decision,” Mr. Issa said. “What we need is a lot more media coverage of the Gold Star families from Afghanistan and the accountability they deserve.”

Lorenz Duchamps contributed to this report.

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