UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Declaration of William Thomas
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
William Thomas, et. al. | C.A. No. 94-2742
Plaintiffs pro se, | Judge Charles R. Richey
The United States, et. al. |
DECLARATION OF WILLIAM THOMAS
I, William Thomas, hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the following is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and understanding:
- I have maintained a continuous presence on the White House sidewalk and in the southern portion of Lafayette Park since August, 1981, for the purpose of communicating the urgency of the global elimination of nuclear weapons.
- Since the beginning, I have believed that my communicative presence is the only service I can preform for the God of Life and Truth while confined to the United States of America.
- Never, during the course of these activities, have I threatened the security, or impeded the passage of any person.
- During March, 1994, an individual named Esyededeea Aesfyza was busy trying to displace the signs which the White House Vigil had displayed at the center of the southside in the Park everyday since June 17, 1983, when they were moved to that location from their previous position on the White House sidewalk. Mr. Aesfyza's intention was to replace those signs with his own sign, picturing a large swatzska. (In a case which received wide local attention, Mr. Aesfyza was later convicted of destroying public property for painting swatzskas in many places. See, D.C. v. Aesfyza, D.C. Super Sm-14352-93 and SM 16750-93.)
- During the course of Mr. Aesfyza's efforts to supplant the White
House Vigil signs with his own, Mr. Aesfyza repeatedly initiated confrontations with plaintiff Picciotto. Officer O'Neil expressed predisposition to Mr. Aesfyza's illegal activities as opposed to Picciotto's constitutionally protected activities.
- On March 23, 1994 Officer O'Neil began talking to me about Mr.
Aesfyza and the situation with Concepcion. After listening to Officer O'Neil rationalize Mr. Aesfyza's behavior, I told him I thought he was either dishonest or stupid, that I had better things to do than listen to him, and started to leave. As I walked away Officer O'Neil asked me whether CONCEPCION'S bicycle was registered. Because it seemed obvious that I was not the appropriate person to be asking about the registration of CONCEPCION'S bicycle, in addition to the fact that Concepcion's registration sticker was clearly visible, I told Officer to climb a flagpole. When he asked me, "What did you say?" I repeated myself. He arrested me and charged me with "disorderly conduct."
- Although, much to the credit of the judicial system, the charges were dismissed on April 8, 1994, the entire interrogation, arrest, incarceration and judicial process was an abuse which cost me many valuable hours, emotional stress, embarressment and discomfort.
- On November 7, 1994 Officer O'Neill told me that one of two signs I was attending was "a structure." He said I would be subject to arrest and the sign subject to confiscation, unless I removed the sign from the park.
- On or about November 8th Officer Keness told me Officer O'Neill had told me that the same sign was "a structure." Officer Keness said I would be subject to arrest, and the sign subject to confiscation unless I removed the sign from the park.
- I told Officer Keness that I was in the process of drafting a letter
to Richard Robbins about the particular object in question, and suggested that he not arrest me until he got word from Mr. Robbins.
- On November 14th I sent a certified letter to Defendant Richard
Robbins regarding that particular object, have yet to receive a response, while the same officers have continued to invent new pretexts to justify regulatory abuse against expressive activity. Plaintiffs' Exhibit 1.
- One such pretext has centered on two flags, which, as indicated by previous opinions of this court, have long been used by the White House Vigil, and abused by the defendants. E.g., Plaintiff's Exhibit 2.
- I am opposed to the idea of knuckling under to bullies. I believe it is unAmerican to submit to a "permit" when a "constitutional right" is involved. Nevertheless, because Concepcion -- who attends the vigil more hours than I -- is greatly distressed by force and intimidation, and because Officers O'Neil and Keness seemed to be enjoying the obviously great distress they were inflicting on Concepcion by threatening to arrest her for the flags they knew, or should have known, they had no probable cause to even talk about; and despite the considerable expense of time and energy involved, since last February I have frequently applied for and always received permits for "2 signs and 2 flags."
- Just the same, on or about December 17th, Officers O'Neil and Keness had intimidated Concepcion into removing the "2 flags."
- Because I don't like knuckling under to bullies, particularly after having disgraced liberty by applying for a permit to practice a right, I replaced the flags about an hour after Officer Keness forced Concepcion to remove them.
- Officer Keness then threatened to arrest me and confiscate the flags unless I removed them, I showed him a permit, and permit
application, pointed out that it allowed "2 signs and 2 flags," and refused to remove them.
- Officer Keness insisted that if I didn't remove the flags he would arrest me and seize the flags. I told Officer Keness he could do as he liked, but suggested that he consult with his shift commander before taking any action. Officer Keness asked for the permit and walked away.
- About an hour later Officer Keness returned, handed me the permit, and claimed he had consulted with his supervisor, and that the "issue was under investigation."
- I explained to Officer Keness that I'd been thinking about his behavior for about an hour, and had decided that I didn't think he was crazy. I then explained that, assuming he wasn't crazy, I could only imagine three possible explanations for his actions regarding the flags: (a) he doesn't like Concepcion, (b) he doesn't like what she is saying, or (c) a combination of (a) and (b). After Officer Keness said, "I'm just doing my job," I asked, "Assuming harassing Concepcion about these flags is part of a policeman's job, and there are three Park Police officers stationed on the White House sidewalk twenty-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, but only a couple of clearly identifiable officers have harassed Concepcion about her flags, wouldn't that mean that most of those police on the sidewalk aren't doing their jobs?"
- Officer Keness left without further comment.
December 21, 1994