Huddle, et. al. CA No. 88-3130 Plaintiffs pro se Judge Joyce Hens Green v.
Reagan, et. al. Defendants.
DECLARATION OF ELLEN THOMAS
I, Ellen Thomas, hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the following is accurate and correct to the best of my knowledge and recollection.
1. Since 1984 I have attempted to maintain a continuous vigil for global nuclear disarmament outside the White House in Lafayette (Peace) Park.
2. During the almost seven years of my vigil I have communicated to millions of people -- through signs, literature, and conversation -- my beliefs that unless humanity eliminates nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons will eliminate humanity, that God meant it when He said, "Thou shalt not kill," and that "You shall reap what you sow."
3. I believe that God led me to Peace Park to share, as effectively as possible, my beliefs with others before it is too late and the holocaust occurs.
4. By acting according to the conclusions of my conscience and my reason, I have removed myself from "the world" of moneymaking and tax-paying, and devote every hour of my life, waking and sleeping, to the prayerful pursuit of peace on earth.
5. I believe that through my presence in the Park I have planted many seeds in the minds of people from all over the planet.
6. One seed I have been planting since 1987 is "Proposition One," a nationwide voter initiative which calls for Constitutional and economic conversion to provide for human needs and for environmental restoration. Exhibit 2a.
7. I agree with Thomas Jefferson that "the people need a place to feel close to their president," which I've read was his explanation for chopping off a seven-acre chunk of his front yard to make into a public park. Jefferson's purpose is, to me, made clear through the Declaration of Independence, the First Amendment and the history of Lafayette (Peace) Park as a place for vigils since at least 1917.
8. In October, 1990, with the assistance of Karin Love, William Thomas, Brett (Song) Hamrick, and others I began actively working to put Proposition One on the D.C. ballot as "Initiative 32." Exhibit 2-b.
9. I have seen hundreds of demonstrations since 1984, and have come to believe that the administration and the press are very unimpressed by most of them. Very little truth gets into the D.C. media about what demonstrators are really saying or doing. I believe that communication is the key to peace through understanding. I believe that the media, although jaded, is a key to communication. I believe that if I remain consistent, focused, and genuinely open to the truth there is a very strong possibility that eventually I will discover how to interest the jaded media in helping to communicate the truth.
10. Since my vigil began several regulations have been written and, in my presence and opinion, arbitrarily enforced against demonstrators and homeless people with the effect of frightening most demonstrators and homeless people away from Lafayette Park.
11. Since 1984 I have attempted on many occasions to resolve problems arising from the enforcement of those regulations in a reasonable manner. (See e.g. Exhibits 24-a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k - Ellen Thomas' letters to White House, Dept. of Interior, and U.S. Park Police.)
12. Since 1986, with the help of William Thomas and a few other people I trust, I have maintained substantially the same two 4' x 4' signs in Lafayette Park.
13. On January 12, 1991, a small group of native Americans from Minnesota came to the Park with a ceremonial "mother drum," and began drumming a prayer for peace.
14. I felt a profound spiritual connection with these people, and began drumming the "mother's heartbeat" alongside them. Many other people joined us from many nations, religions, and races. This experience brought me great hope and joy.
15. On January 16, 1991, President Bush announced the first bomb run on Baghdad; the Minnesota people left, but gave me a small native American drum to continue "the people's heartbeat." This I have prayerfully continued to do whenever my energy and the police allow.
16. Within my understanding of decibels, very rarely, and never at night, do I drum over 60 decibels.
17. I photographed or video taped quite a few incidents in Lafayette Park between January 12th and the present date, which document all of the following statements.
18. After the Minnesota native Americans left, a 24-hour drum vigil spontaneously began, capturing the imagination of the press after the president purported aggravation with the drums. Exhibits 5-a, 5-b; 9-a, 9-b - newspaper articles. Video @ 22.30.
19. On January 24, 1991 I observed U.S. Park Police take one of Song's signs, despite the fact that his sign was closely attended by several responsible people. Video @ 1.10. Park Police also threatened and injured Thomas while he was sitting on Concepcion's sign. Video @ 1.30.
20. On January 26, 1991 I observed U.S. Park Police take the second of Song's signs, which were, once again, closely attended by responsible people. Video @ 1.50. Sgt. McNally also seized a sign from me, twisting my thumb painfully to wrest it out of my hand. Video @ 1.55.
21. On or about January 27, 1991 I observed my husband, Thomas, and several other people arrested near our signs for melodically tapping on drums. My valuable arabic drum and a red snare drum which was loaned to me and Thomas were seized as "evidence" and have been withheld despite my requests for their return. Days later, on February 8, 1991 I videotaped those same drums in the back seat of a Park Police suburban-type vehicle.
22. On or about January 29, 1991 I entered the park just as dozens of firetrucks circled around the White House with sirens blasting, driven by firefighters on (paid?) leave for an afternoon of demonstrating their "support for the President." Several police nearby smiled.
23. On or about February 1, 1991 I observed a U.S. Park Police photographer selectively choose which drummers to photograph among those gathered to play drums outside the White House as a reminder to President Bush that there were many people who objected to the war in the Middle East. Among the few people photographed was plaintiff Song.
24. On or about February 1, 1991 I observed a gang of U.S. Park Police in front of the Hay Adams Hotel wrench buckets out of the hands of several demonstrators who had left Lafayette Park after being warned about a 60-decibel-limit in national parks. The police then re-entered the park and carried the buckets over to the many police vehicles waiting on Pennsylvania Avenue. This became standard procedure. E.g. Video @ 29.00.
25. On February 2, 1991 I observed U.S. Park Police Sgt. McNally take one of Karin Love's signs, which was closely attended by responsible people, including Brian Barrett, who was injured by a nail when police ripped the signs out of Brian's grasp. Video @ 1.58.
26. On or about February 2, 1991, some pro-war demonstrators brought signs out to the sidewalk and held them up at oncoming traffic with the words "Honk for the Troops." They also had tables stacked with T-shirts, a stage, and a megaphone. Police in the median of Pennsylvania Avenue and on the sidewalk near these demonstrators were tolerant of the horns honking at much higher than 60 decibels. This was to be the case every weekend during the course of the war.
27. On February 2, 1991, at about 5:00 p.m. I observed Sgt. McNally tell Concepcion that he was going to give her a citation and take her literature trays as "unlawful structures" if she didn't correct "the problem." When pressed to elaborate on "the problem," Sgt. McNally walked away. Video @ 3.05.
28. On February 2, 1991 at about 6:00 p.m. I returned to the Park from a brief errand to discover Concepcion in handcuffs being loaded onto a paddy wagon, and her signs and literature being loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away as "evidence." Video @ 3.36.
29. I was shocked. I had spoken with several of the U.S. Park Police officers who now stood threateningly in a semi-circle around the center area of the sidewalk where Concepcion's signs had been. From our conversations I had believed that they were caring people. I felt betrayed. I thought, despite their orders, the Park Police would balk at arresting Concepcion, who has been the most steadfast demonstrator in the history of Lafayette Park. She has earned the respect of millions of people around the planet. I mourned for those officers whom I had thought of as friends.
30. Some members of the pro-war group Young Americans for Freedom rushed to the location where Concepcion's signs had stood, and stood there waving a flag and cheering what seemed to me to be the death of a precariously maintained balance between the First Amendment and "aesthetics."
31. My daughter, an E.T. (electronics technician) in the U.S. Navy for the past four years, showed up to visit me in the Park just as Concepcion was being arrested. "This is what I joined the military to protect?" she asked, outraged at the show of police force.
33. On February 3, 1991, I observed U.S. Park Police, on the pretext of a nebulous "unlawful structure," steal my signs and literature out from under Thomas. Park Police officers refused to explain what was unlawful. I also observed Park Police officers arrest Thomas, which was certainly unnecessary, since they could have simply taken the signs and literature and issued Thomas a citation. I was told, when I asked for a receipt, that the signs were being held as "evidence." Video @ 5.15-8.00.
34. I had had substantially those same signs in Lafayette Park since April 1986 without complaint from any officers. Video @ 0.00.
35. On February 9, 1991, at approximately 4:00 p.m., I observed U.S. Park Police, led by Lt. C. E. Clipper, throw Stuart Morris and Brian Barrett to the ground in the process of seizing buckets out of their hands. Video @ 23.18-25.36.
36. On February 10, 1991, at approximately 5:20 p.m., I observed Lt. Clipper throw Jim ("Clyde") Calvin down, then, with the assistance of other police, across the sidewalk, where he was clubbed, then he was kicked through the gate in the iron fence, into the street and carried, in part, by his hair. I was told at that moment by Wally Brown that there was blood on his head. I later saw his wound. He was very roughly hauled away in a paddy wagon. Video @ 25.36-27.05.
37. I have observed several of my friends roughly arrested for softly beating drums or buckets during the daytime and early evening. (Meantime Captain Irwin was quoted in the newspaper as saying "No one would have been arrested if it was below 60 decibels." Exhibit 3-c.) Several times I have observed buckets wrenched, sometimes painfully, out of people's hands by Park Police officers.
38. On or about March 2, 1991, I observed Lt. Clipper violently arrest Al Cole.
39. Since the crackdown began Lt. Clipper has been a chief player in most acts of brutality which I have observed against demonstrators and homeless people in Lafayette Park. Video @ 23.18-27.05.
40. I have observed many items stolen by the U.S. Park Police from people's sides or feet, including a purse, several backpacks, blankets on very cold or freezing nights, plastic on rainy nights, countless signs, a banjo, and several expensive drums which were either badly damaged, or which have not been returned.
41. On or about February 11, 1991, I observed U.S. Park Police take Karin Love's second sign from her hand despite her offer to remove the sign from the park. Karin had had that same sign in the park since August, 1990. Video # 8.00.
42. Also on or about February 11, 1991 I was told at Brentwood that "Sgt. Malhoyt wants you to come pick up your signs and stuff (seized on February 3rd) at Hains Point. They're sitting out in the rain, and we can't take responsibility for their being damaged."
43. Since I was told originally that the signs and literature were being held as "evidence," I can't understand why the police are leaving them out in the rain.
44. Since the police are stealing every sign that they find unacceptable, I have neither the time nor the inclination to play take away/get back/take away again. For example on February 22, the wind blew my small paper sign a few yards away, to a Park Police officer's feet. When I spoke and moved to retrieve it, he picked the sign up and took it outside the fence to Pennsylvania Avenue. Video @ 12.47.
45. On February 22, 1991, at approximately 11:16 PM Sgt. McNally approached me on the sidewalk of Lafayette Park and said that a basket and cardboard stationery box in which I was displaying literature for public distribution were "structures." When I began video taping our conversation at approximately 11:18 PM Sgt. McNally told me, "You will be given a reasonable amount of time to remove the containers and boxes at your site here. Failure to do so will result in future action." When asked to specify for the video the offending containers and boxes Sgt. McNally walked away in silence. Video @ 13.17.
46. About an hour later a Washington Post reporter, Debra (Willborne?), arrived in Lafayette Park in response to a phone call placed by a witness to Sgt. MacNally's ultimatum. The reporter looked at the box of literature, walked through the gate in the newly-constructed fence along Pennsylvania Avenue, and sat in Sgt. McNally's cruiser in the center of Pennsylvania Avenue for approximately fifteen minutes. Video @ 14.48.
47. At 1:16 AM Sgt. McNally took photographs of the site of my demonstration. Thomas video taped him at this time. When I asked Sgt. McNally to state his specific objection to my demonstration he said, "I don't think it's worth it." Video @ 15.10.
48. When I expressed my concern that he was about to arrest me he said he wouldn't arrest me then "because it would probably please you."
49. On February 23, 1991 at approximately 11:43 AM Lt. Clipper said that I had to get my signs off the sidewalk and up on my blanket, and that the same box had to go. I pulled out the video camera and asked Lt. Clipper to document his position, and he gestured to Officer Cox, who said, "The boxes have to go, Ellen." I explained that the box was necessary to keep the literature from flying away in the wind. I stated my opinion that the items which the police wanted removed were First Amendment material which I was lawfully attending, and that if they felt some item was illegitimate they should take that item and issue me a citation. I was very apprehensive about the fact that I might be arrested, but certain that if I didn't stand firm for the First Amendment I couldn't live with myself. Video @ 19.00.
50. Officer Cox said that I would be issued a citation if I was "not complying." I replied that they could remove any items which they considered against the law. Officer Cox turned to Lt. Clipper, and engaged in a brief conversation. They walked away. That was the end of the matter.
51. On February 24, 1991, between approximately 7 and 7:15 AM, I observed Park Police officers arrest five people who were demonstrating on the north side of Lafayette Park while George Bush was in and emerging from St. John's Episcopal Church.
52. At approximately 7:20 AM I observed a Metropolitan police sergeant and several officers assault and arrest Karin Love near the guard house in Lafayette Park, under the supervision of Park Police sergeant badge #966. Some of the officers twisted Karin's arms behind her, while the sergeant choked her. When they dragged her to the paddy wagon she appeared in severe physical distress. Video @ 27.15.
53. Karin had not been drumming. I saw her do nothing which could be construed as illegal by any reasonable observer. Her activity had been chants like "The dogs of war are loose! The dogs of war are loose!" and "You're under arrest, you don't support the president!" and blowing a small whistle. Just across 16th Street from St. John's Church, doormen have been whistling for cabs day and night for years. The church bells were much louder than the Whistle or the drums of the demonstrators.
54. on February 24, 1991, at approximately 7:00 p.m., I observed the Park Police bring several very large, occasionally skittish horses and dozens of what seemed to be storm troopers into the midst of a peaceful group of demonstrators surrounding a few drummers. People and buckets began flying all around. Several people were arrested; some people appeared to be injured. I remained close to my sign, and several times was concerned that if I didn't step a few feet away I might be stepped on by a panicky horse. However, I was more concerned that if I stepped a few feet away one of the many Park Police would swoop down on my sign and take it away, so I remained in close proximity of a dangerous situation. I believe it was only the absolutely nonviolent nature of the demonstrators which kept people from being more seriously injured. Video @ 29.18-45.00.
55. On February 3, 1991, I observed U.S. Park Police Sgt. Rule state that demonstrators could sleep for up to two hours without violating the camping regulation. Afterward, Park Police routinely came around hourly, and even on the half hour, all night long to make sure that no one was "camping." Video @ 48.15-101.45 When confronted, I invite the police to speak to me, but ask them not to touch me. Nonetheless, I am routinely poked, prodded and threatened if I lie prone or wrap up to keep out the winter night air. Some officers continue to take photographs, rip off plastic or blanket, order me to sit up, tell me I'm sleeping when I'm very clearly not sleeping, and threaten me with arrest for "camping" if I merely close my eyes.
56. On February 25, 1991, at 6:37 am, I observed Lt. Clipper, Officer Ferebee, and eight other Park Police charge and harass Scott Galindez.
57. On or about March 1, 1991, at approximately 12:20 a.m., I was told by Sgt. Rule that if I sat on a blanket I would be arrested, whether or not I had my eyes closed. A few minutes later I observed Sgt. Rule arrest Scott Galindez for demonstrating his disgust with this latest change in the interpretation of the camping regulation by crawling into a sleeping bag. I left the Park to begin working on this declaration and the accompanying video which documents this latest siege on the demonstrators in Lafayette Park. Video @ 107.39-108.19 and 102.25.
58. The foregoing are by no means all of the incidents I can describe of police misconduct since the war began.
59. My Proposition One campaign has been almost terminated by loss of my signs and literature, and the constant distraction of intense police harassment.
60. The continuous harassment by Park Police officers is causing me stress, anxiety, and physical deterioration. Essentially, unless Your Honor stops the police harassment, my seven-year-old witness in Lafayette Park will have been effectively terminated. I grieve. I pray for an end to the government's ever-building assault on the people. I pray that the Court will acknowledge that the Interior Department has, in truth, nickle-and-dimed the First Amendment to death. I pray that I may continue my work unmolested. I pray that your honor will help keep Thomas Jefferson's peace park alive. Under penalty of perjury,
Ellen Thomas, pro se
2817 11th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20038