Letter to President Clinton

November 25, 1996

Dear President Clinton,

In case you're looking for us, our vigil continues (at least for the moment); the signs have been moved across the park while a dozen large mobile homes rest on the grass of the southern half of Lafayette Park for the construction crews' comfort. Police patrol regularly to make sure no homeless people crawl under the empty trailers in the icy dark of night. The bricks where office workers and tourists usually walk are being torn up, and soon huge ugly three-story bleachers will rise in the space where our vigil normally stands, along the north shore of Pennsylvania Avenue, so the press -- for one afternoon -- may stay warm and dry and near bathrooms while President Clinton has his second inaugural parade.

Personally, I think it unwise for you to have a second inaugural parade. You might set a more modest example. Somehow a second inauguration seems ostentatious. Extravagant. Boastful.

Ronald Reagan tried to have a second inaugural parade but it was so cold Inauguration Day 1985, the president had to call it off, and the quarter-million-dollar bleachers went unused. We were shivering and dancing in the northeast quadrant of the park, giving credit to God for a good sense of humor.

Since there are private citizens who insist on paying for this desecration of Lafayette Park every four years (via the Inaugural Committee), I suppose we're stuck with the bleachers again this year. So I'm writing you, President Clinton, asking you, as I asked President Reagan in 1985, at least to leave the bleachers up for the rest of the winter, for homeless people to get out of the cold, wet, snowy, icy streets. I'm not asking for us -- we will remain at our signs with the minimal amount of protection necessary to survive. We are asking on behalf of the homeless sleeping on the DC streets (in spite of police harassment), still, after all these years.

Your friend,

Ellen Thomas

PO Box 27217, Washington, DC 20038 USA
202-462-0757-- (voice) | 202-265-5389 -- (fax)
prop1@prop1.org -- (e-mail) | http://prop1.org --