WEEKLY PUBLICATION OF THE
A "Petition in Hieroglyph"
ALTERNATIVE NEWS COLLECTIVE
by Ed Powell
Norman Mayer's soul goes marching on, though his body was
killed by a Washington SWAT team on Dec. 9, 1981. Norman's two
friends, Thomas and Connie, kept his message alive through a 24
hour vigil in front of the White House. Norman's leaflets turned
into huge signs, "As an Act of Sanity Ban Nuclear Weapons,"
Or " Have a Nice Doomsday", and took on new content:
"Live by the Bomb. Die by the Bomb."
During the first year (1982-83) Robert joined the vigil
as a permanent member; a handful of others came, later left. Now
the vigil is up to a hardcore of 12 members who live in Lafayette
Park, proving you can not only survive but flourish without money
if you have friends.
Thus a new community is sprouting in the very center of
the nation's capital. The homeless are creating a home for themselves,
in defiance of law and social pressure. "WHITE
HOUSE Officials DESTROY PROTEST SIGNS" runs an Associated
Press story of June 24, 1984 but a week later still more signs
had grown. Visiting dignitaries in the White House could thus
look out on the rabble, perhaps ask embarrassing questions. "The
signs", say; the AP, "were clearly visible from the
north portico of the White and from the Windows of the State floor,
used for official parties and state dinners" (Buffalo
On August 6, The Washington Times ran a page 1 story,
"SIGNS TAKING ROOT IN LAFAYETTE PARK".
The Times explained how the number and size of the signs had grown
since last year's effort to regulate them, and quoted a White
House staffer: "They look horrible...My little nieces and
nephews come to visit Washington and when they went back to upstate
New York that's all they talked about" (Washington
Times August 6, 1984).
Understandably, kids Like life - and Washington is mostly
made up of dead stone. In Lafayette Park people are beginning
to talk to each other and play guitars; men take off their shirts...
LAFAYETTE PARK: NOT JUST ANOTHER PRETTY
runs a New York Times story of September 7, 1984. To the Times
the vigil had a look, of permanence. A speakers platform, on wheels
with amplified sound, was there - and anyone could step up and
speak. WOW. AN OPEN MIKE in the park only 100 yards away from
the home of Ron and Nancy Reagan!
"It's just an arrangement of senseless words and graffiti
across from the White House", said a University of Virginia
student. (Washington Times, August 6, 1984).
"Will Ron and Nancy become a 20th century version
of Louis XVI and Marie Antonette?"
Precisely. Real intelligence is required to read the meaning
of the Norman Mayer Vigil, or Lafayette Park. Will Reagan and
his people be able to decode the message? Or will Ron and Nancy
become a 20th century version of Louis XVI and Marie Antonette.
Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution (1957), described
the "waste multitudes" who, on May 2, 1775 congregated
at the palace with their wretchedness, sallow faces, squalor as
if . . . a legible hieroglyphic writing a petition of Grievances."
King Louis appeared on the balcony, looked at their "petition",
even if he did not read it, and for an answer had two of the multitude
hanged from a new gallows forty feet high. "The rest".
says Carlisle, were "driven back to their dens"-- for
But, as we now know, they returned and took over in 1789.
Mr. Powell is a professor of sociology at the State University
of New York at Buffalo-ED.
Concepcion Information List
| Conchita Personal Story
Photographs | The