The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 1992
Anti-Nuke Activists To Hold Their Lines at Lafayette ParkAssociated Press
Concepcion Picciotto has camped outside the White House every day for 12 years to protest nuclear arms. She wants it to be known straight off that, new president or not, she's not going anywhere
"Changing the president won't do anything," she said mournfully after the election. "It's like a chess game to just move the pieces"
The small Spanish-born woman. Her head covered in a thick black wig and a large babushka, spends her days directly across from the White House door, on the edge of Lafayette Park.
President Bush has never crossed Pennsylvania Avenue to meet her, and her attitude toward presidents in general goes well beyond disappointment. But she did go to the polls Tuesday - to vote for Ross Perot.
"He did make a little more sense than the other ones. He was more sincere," she said "Besides, he's not a politician."
A few paces away, between two minute signs with messages like "Wanted - Wisdom and Honesty"is Ellen Thomas, who voted for "a man of my generation." Bill Clinton. But she has no plans to quit her 9-year White House vigil either.
"I told myself if God wanted me to, I'd stay here until there were no nuclear weapons left anywhere." said Mrs. Thomas, 46, who wears her gray hair in pigtails held in place with red rubber bands and sports a metal shell like a talisman around her neck.
I'd rather not be here," she said, " but I probably will be for a while"
Ms. Picciotto has no other home, Mrs. Thomas is maarried to a man who works on nuclear arms protests from a friend's basement, where she sometimes goes to shower and take a break.
The women see themselves more as teachers than protesters. Their purpose, they said, is to remind.
Both hand out information to anyone who wants it.
Ms. Picciotto has photocopied articles n a variety of languages. Including Spanish, German, Japanese and English.
Mrs. Thomas asks passersby to sign a petition for a voter referendum she hopes one day to see on the ballot in every state.
It calls for total U.S. nuclear disarmament and, eventually, the complete conversio of all military forces and industries to peacetime pursuits.
She said Mr. Bush has been better since he started taking his thyroid medicine, but she feels "real hope" for President-elect Bill Clinton - a man free of the memories of World War II. She danced and beat a drum in Lafayette Park until 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to celebrate Mr. Clinton's election, but reality is returning along with the vigil routine.
Ms. Picciotto quietly swept the area around her belongings, which include a makeshift board seat between two bright yellow signs emblazoned with large black and red letters.
"Stay the course and this will happen to you." reads one plastered with gruesome post Hiroshima photographs of dying people and skulls piled in large mounds. "White House 24 hours-a-day anti-nuclear peace bigil since 1981," reads the other.
She also has a bulletin board of sorts for press clippings, bumper stickers and letters she has written to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and others.
Mrs. Thomas, meanwhile, said she has a challenge for Bill and Hillary Clinton: "What I would hope is that, unlike the two predecessors, they will be free enough of fear to come out of that gate and come over here and talk to us."