Secretary William Clark
34th and C S.W.
Dear Mr. Clark:
I recall from my recent association with Dr. Jay Hair as his assistant that you are a rational and perhaps an idealistic person. I therefore write to ask you to examine some regulations which were endorsed by your predecessor, James Watt, which are designed to restrict our constitutional rights of free speech, assembly, religion, and the redress of our government for wrongs committed against its citizens.
My husband William Thomas has been maintaining a 24-hour vigil in front of the White House for three years, communicating to passersby the urgency of the threat of nuclear destruction either by accident or design. The first year he was arrested five times for "camping," but the charges were always dismissed. However, in June of 1982 the Interior Department's Park Service passed 36 CFR 50-27, which defined "camping" so broadly as to make it impossible to maintain a vigil here in Lafayette Park without being arrested for and being convicted of sleeping (which our bodies unfortunately demand despite all our efforts to comply with the requirement that we not do so), protecting ourselves from rain and snow and cold, and keeping on hand and protected from the elements the literature that we share with passersby in our efforts to communicate.
On June 6, 1984 an officer of the U.S. Park Police, I'm sure sincerely believing he was doing his job in enforcing these regulations, lost his head and physically assaulted and injured three demonstrators. If we had responded with violence ourselves I fear that one of us might even have been killed. I enclose copies of letters which I have written to this officer and to his fellow officers.
I beg you, in your capacity as Interior Secretary, to investigate all the facts of this matter. I'm enclosing "USA vs. Thomas," which describes my husband's trials so far in the past three years of 22 arrests on constitutionally illegal charges. We are available to talk to you at any time, and pray you will have the concern for the welfare of the principles on which this country is founded (justice and liberty far all) to analyze and come to a just conclusion of the logic, humanity, and legality of these regulations and the actions that have resulted from them.
Ellen Benjamin Thomas
Strike for Peace
P.O. Box 27127
Dr. Jay Hair
Washington, D.C. 20038
c: Washington Post
Washington Post Article 6/24/84
Response from DOI-Arnett 7/11/84