DC HOME NEWS November 15, 1985

LAFAYETTE PARK - There's a famous park here in Washington, across the street from the White House. By the government it's called Lafayette Park, or President's Park. By some cab drivers, press, and public it's called Peace Park, D.C.

It's the kind of place where the champion demonstrators of the western world congregate 24 hours a day throughout the year, to make their views known to the president, who lives just across the street

There's a woman in Peace Park who has become quite famous for her four-year continual presence, day and night, seeking a total nuclear ban.

Meet Concepcion Picciotto,
the Chief Demonstrator
of Lafayette Park


Concepcion Picciotto is tough.

Compact, sturdy, courageous, stubborn, and tireless in her fight for juistice, she's pioneer stock. One of a kind.

Concepcion holds the world record for the longest-running, 24- hour-a-day continuous peace vigil against nuclear weapons conducted by an individual.

Not rain, nor sleet, nor police out hunting "campers" in the middle of the night, have been able to dissuade her from her chosen course.

Through the night she sits upright in a chair lest she be arrested.

Her sentinel signs should go straight to the Smithsonian when she decides to retire them.

In 1975, Concepcion began her career as a protester on the steps of the courthouse in New York City, seeking the return of her adoptcd child in a domestic dispute.

"The police constantly threatened me. I was very scared, moved from one city to another. Finally I said to myself, 'You have nothing to run away from.'"

She decided to come to Washington, DC to see if higher courts could help her. She lobbied all over town, and became more and more involved in communicating her beliefs, using signs and literature.

"I was panicked to be in the streets, which I never was before," she told Kimberly Caviness, a reporter from the Georgetown Voice, in 1985. "Every day I came to protest at the White House."

In the summer of 1981, Concepcion encountered William Thomas, a philosopher with a cause and a unique method of communicating.

Thomas had begun a 24-hour-a-day anti-nuclear protest on June 3, 1981.

Concepcion listened to his conversations with passersby. He spoke of his adventures as a pilgrim crossing North Africa without a penny in his pocket. He spoke of what he had learned in his travels.

"Unless humanity eliminates nuclear weapons," he said, "nuclear weapons will eliminate humanity."

"God didn't design the planet with borders," he said.

"The U.S. government and the Soviet government have created false borders based on differing economic systems, and are threatening life on the planet to maintain those borders," he argued. "It's not logical."

Concecpcion became convinced that Thomas spoke the truth.

"What is the use of fighting for the rights of the homeless," she came to believe, "if we push the button? No world!"

Concepcion Information List | Conchita Personal Story
Photographs | The President's Neighbor