On Friday, April 23, 1999, Thomas held the peace line in Lafayette Park and was arrested for not moving from his normal spot. He stood between signs that read Depleted Uranium Keeps On Killing and "Bill Clinton says: 'Solve differences with words, not guns' - Stop Bombing". Meanwhile, Albanians chanted "Bomb! NATO BOMB!" nearby in the park, and the Citizens Summit called for denuking NATO on the other side of the White House.
We're happy to announce that she did this, with great style, on July 16, 1999, giving a press conference on July 30th at which Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) announced she was and would continue to be a co-sponsor, and Marcus Raskin (Institute for Policy Studies), Mary Olson (Nuclear Information and Resource Service), Bob Tiller (Physicians for Social Responsibility), John Steinbach (Veterans for Peace), and Bruce Hall (Peace Action) all gave glowing speeches of support. On August 4th, Admiral Eugene Carroll of Center for Defense Information spoke at a Radiation Survivors press conference at the National Press Building, calling for the same abolition of nuclear weapons and conversion of the war machines that HR-2545 seeks to attain.
We feel close solidarity with those citizens of Vieques, Puerto Rico, who have been holding a continuous vigil to stop the U.S. military from using their island as a bombing range. Their efforts began getting world attention thanks to the hard work of those holding down the tents, and the work of those in Washington DC who are arranging very effective, frequent demonstrations at the White House, and lobby days on Capitol Hill.
* Kosovo Bombing
An impartial assessment of the NATO/Serb/Kosovar conflict begins from the premises that all human beings are members of the human race, and concepts of ethnicity are merely shortsighted, ego-centric misperceptions of reality. Nearl daily two sides to the conflict have popped up during the NATO air strikes (sometimes at the same time). The Albanians were chanting "U.S.A.!!" and "Send the ground troops in!!" -- which led one bystander to shout back, "You want ground troops? You're Kosovan? Put on a uniform and fight your own war!" [Thomas provides an analysis of the two sides.]
* Letter to Editor, Washington Post, August 8, 1999
Re: "Neo-Nazis Bow Out of March" By Sylvia Moreno, Spencer S. Hsu and Sewell Chan, August 8, 1999
I was disappointed that Mr. Chan's late-night phone interview Friday evening was not included in today's article about the Neo-Nazi no-show. I had called the Post earlier Friday to express concern about the forced removal of the 18-year anti-nuclear vigil from its traditional site outside the White House in Lafayette Park, the first time the vigilers have ever been forced to remove themselves and their signs for the sake of other demonstrations.
In fact, what happened (as we expected), was no Nazis, a few happy anti-Nazis, an enormous loss for businesses which rely on Saturday tourist trade, millions of tax dollars for the 1,500-police force, and a media with egg on its face. Lighten up, guys. The First Amendment implies freedom. What happened yesterday had nothing to do with freedom.
By the way, do you remember the crazy guy who was locked up during a snowstorm a few years ago for painting swastikas all over town? (See your May 11, 1996 and July 16, 1997 stories, "Man Guilty in Swastika Graffiti Incident" and "Swastika Painter Jailed by INS"). When the police ended their multi-million-dollar "security" exercise yesterday, this contentious fellow Esededeea Aesfyza ("Zeus") scuttled in with a little cardboard swastika and commandeered the traditional spot held for 18 years, 24 hours a day, by Concepcion Picciotto ("Live By The Bomb, Die By The Bomb"). Zeus had coveted that spot in the past; he once got a police permit to evict Concepcion. That time it only took two policemen to do the job. This year was a much more costly exercise in bad manners.
So the end result of this horribly expensive and chilling fiasco is that a single "Nazi," backed by 1,500 police officers, has ousted the antinuclear Vigil, and the swastika has shoved the dove away from the President's front door, at enormous cost to taxpayers, tourists, and the First Amendment. The irony is obvious. I hope the insanity of the entire unnecessary exercise is also obvious to others. If it's not ... if you don't raise your voice in outcry against the taking of our beautiful city by the voices of paranoia ... then I suppose you deserve what you get. Personally, I'm going to keep blowing the whistle and hope somebody hears. Maybe it's still not too late.
Ellen Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org, August 8, 1999
Afterword: The last two weeks in August, "Zeus" once again obtained a permit from the National Park Service to take over Concepcion's traditional spot, and for two weeks hovered close to her signs with a swastika and furious allegations on a cardboard sign. He attacked Rudy and broke the vigilers' video camera; he kicked Thomas in the groin. The police were polite to all concerned, but not much help. Ellen obtained a permit for September 3-9, and Concepcion moved back to her spot. Stay tuned.
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