Gold Star Dad Steve Nikoui Charged After Heckling Biden

( – During President Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday March 7, a man was removed and arrested for disrupting the president’s speech by repeatedly shouting about the U.S. Marines who were killed on August 26, 2021, when U.S. military forces withdrew from Afghanistan. The man was 51-year-old Steve Nikoui, who lost his son, Lance Colonel Kareem Nikoui, that day.

Parents of military personnel who die in the line of duty are sometimes referred to as Gold Star parents, due to the gold star pin issued to immediate family members of a fallen service member by The U.S. Department of Defense.

When Nikoui started shouting during Biden’s speech, U.S. Capitol Police asked him to stop and then removed him when he refused. Later, the Capitol Police released a statement pointing out that protest demonstrations are illegal in the Congressional buildings. It is also illegal to disrupt Congress, and Nikoui was arrested under charges of “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding” in relation to those laws. Those charges generally carry a $50 fine.

Nikoui was present at the State of the Union address as a guest of Florida Republican Representative Brian Mast, who is also the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Accountability and Oversight. On the social media platform X, Mast made posts criticizing Biden for not mentioning Afghanistan or referring to the 13 U.S. service members during his State of the Union address. It is unclear if Nikoui planned to disrupt the State of the Union address ahead of time, and if so, if Mast had known that was his intention.

One phrase Nikoui kept shouting was “Abbey Gate” which refers to the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan where a suicide bomber sparked off the attack that would ultimately kill about 170 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members. The president extended his condolences for those who lost loved ones that day, and attended the ceremony referred to as the ‘dignified transfer’ when the American remains were returned home at Dover Air Force base. However, many Americans, and the families of the Marines who died during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, are still angry at what they see as his bungling of the event.

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