Paul Vitello
January 22,1985

It's lonely to be a voice crying in the wilderness. Ask any crusader. But when there are two voices crying in the wilderness right next to one another - and not speaking to each other - what gives?

The two voices in question belong to Concepcion Picciotto and Ellen Thomas, both of whom maintain a plethora of gigantic protest signs that are usually propped up across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park. Both are self-described anti-nuclear zealots. Both are in constant battle with local and federal police agencies that have tried to move them.

But they do not speak to each other, and the reason, it seems, is a man named William Thomas. Thomas, as he is known to friends, had helped tend Picciotto's protest signs for three years, until Ellen, a secretary for the U.S. Park Service, came along last spring. They fell in love, married and set up their own set of protest signs, just down the street from Picciotto's. "Until she came, Thomas was serious about the vigil," Picciotto said yesterday from her spot, which along with the Thomases' was moved to the other side of the park six weeks ago to accomodate inaugural activities. "Now I'm afraid he is just here for the lark, like her."

"She is very territorial," said Ellen Thomas. "I never meant to compete with her. I wanted to join them but she wouldn't have anything to do with me."

William Thomas tries to maintain some distance from the dispute. "Connie is a very dedicated woman. and I respect her a great deal," he said. "I helped her out for a while, but since Connie stopped talking to Ellen, I stopped talking to Connie."

Said Picciotto: "I wouldn't be surprised if they are both CIA agents."

Paul Vitello