May 26, 1995


The Secret Service has closed Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to vehicles, creating the kind of security envelope usually reserved for tin-horn dictators. But a group of nuclear weapons protesters known as the Vigil fears that the frenzy to insulate the president from any and all dangers could lead to fencing in Lafayette Park, a safety proposal the Park Police floated at A public meeting. "Closing the park won't protect the president against bullets fired from outside the perimeter, and it won't protect him from falling airplanes or bombs lobbed in by high-power catapults," says Vigil co-founder W. Thomas, who fears that his group, which has maintained a 24 hour-a-day watch in this park since 1981, will be left without their prominent public forum. "The best way to insure a safe first home is to enclose it with a dome, similar to the one on the Pope's golf cart, but much larger; something along the lines of the Astrodome." Thomas suggests that a two layer, thermoglass dome could absorb bomb blasts, and adds that the country should hold a contest to come up with the strongest, most aesthetically pleasing dome. Once the White House dome is perfected; he adds, the technology could be used to protect federal buildings all over the country. Maybe so, but what technology would protect the domes from pigeons?