Buffalo News
June 24, 1984

United Press International

Washington - Federal officers Saturday dismantled gaudy billboard-sized protest signs that were visible from Inside the While House, citing the technicality that demonstrators manning them had fallen asleep and were camping illegally In Lafayette Square.

U.S, Park Police watch commander Lt. Paul Bolton sald five people were arrested Saturday for snoozing in the park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, and after they were taken away, the signs were under no one's control.

'There was nobody there to leave the signs with, who claimed to be with the demonstration, so we are reponsible for everything," Lt Bolton said.

Through the morning, work crews under supervision of the Park Police broke down and carted away the approximately 12 signs, at least one of them painted on a wooden platform the size of a small billboard. "God is Absolute," the sign read In Dayglo orange

The signs, some of them depicting nuclear holocaust, had been there for months. along with a rotating group of protesters. demonstrating on issues from disarmament to treatment of the homeless.

"The people who were occupying the space set aside for demonstrations where tn violation of camping regulations," Lt. Boston said. "They were asleep, they had personal gear and foodstocks, and that's a violation." The misdemeanor charge carries a $50 fine.

The signs were dearly visible from the north portico of the White House and from through the window of the State Floor, used for official parties and state dinners.

A case is pending before the Supreme Court on the issue of whether "street people" have the right to sleep In a "Reaganville" camp In the park as a form of speech protesting conditions for the homeless.