UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Plaintiff, pro se,
v. C.A. No.________________
The United States, et. al.
Declaration of William Thomas,
Re November 4, 1996
1. At approximately 3:00 pm on November 4, 1996 I was attending
demonstration signs which I jointly maintain with Concepcion Picciotto in the south
side of Lafayette Park, adjacent to what used to be Pennsylvania Avenue, directly
across the street from the White House.
2. I was having a conversation with Daniel Jackson when I noticed a man
carrying a video camera and a woman with a microphone standing on the opposite
side of the signs, and heard them talking about interviewing someone with the signs. I
asked whether they were looking for my friend Concepcion Picciotto. They said they
weren't looking for Concepcion in particular, and asked whether I would be willing to
answer a question for the news interview they were doing.
3. Since my entire purpose for demonstrating in Lafayette Park is to
communicate with the public on issues of broad public concern, and television
interviews are one of the most effective means of mass communications, I told the
news team that I would be happy to talk with them.
4. They asked if I would move around to the other side of the signs so they
could get a shot with the White House in the background. I began walking around to
the other side of the signs, the cameraman and woman interviewer followed me.
5. At that point U.S. Park Police officer Lombardi quickly approached the news
people. "You can't use that video camera in the Park." He told them.
6. Very disturbed by Officer Lombardi's unmerited interference with my
communicative activities, I said to the news people, "Don't pay any attention to him.
Of course you can use your camera in the Park."
7. Officer Lombardi continued to confront the cameraman, I walked back to where they were standing, assured the news team that Officer Lombardi had no authority to forbid their use of the camera, and said, "I know that you people sometimes bother folks about having cameras on tripods. I'm not sure whether you really have the authority, but it doesn't matter anyway because this man doesn't have a tripod, so you have nothing to bother these people about."
8. Officer Lombardi mumbled something about "a lawyer," and moved about fifteen feet away. The cameraman and woman interviewer immediately began walking toward the area where they wanted to do the interview..
9. U.S. Park Police officer Gonzalez then approached me and asked, "What's
10. "I don't have any problem." I replied.
11. "What's your problem?" Officer Gonzalez insisted.
12. "I told you I don't have a problem." I repeated.
13. "What's your problem?" Officer Gonzalez repeated yet again.
14. "Look, maybe he's got some problem," I said, indicating Officer Lombardi,
who was standing about eight or ten feet away. "Why don't you talk to him?"
15. "What's your problem?" Officer Gonzalez simply harped.
16. "I'll tell you what, you're getting to be a problem. I'm trying to do an
interview with these people, and you being in my face is interfering with that."
17. "I'm going to be watching you, and as soon as I see you doing anything I'm
going to be right on you." Officer Gonzalez threatened.
18. "Fine, you do that. In the meantime, why don't you just take a walk and
leave me alone?" I asked.
19. Officer Gonzalez crossed his arms across his chest, and said, "I don't have
to go anywhere. I can stand right here."
20. "Okay," I agreed, "You stand there." I turned away and joined the news
people. We finished the interview, which consisted of questions about the upcoming
21. Three or four Secret Service officers joined Lombardi and Gonzalez, and
the little group stood by the curb about twenty feet away from the signs.
22. After the interview I went back to sit between my signs, and began reading
a newspaper. Concepcion returned and gave me a cup of hot chocolate.
23. Officer Lombardi left the group of police officers, who were still standing by
the curb, and, with Officer Gonzalez tagging along, came over to where I was sitting.
24. "Is this yours?" Officer Lombardi asked, tapping an accordion file of
literature with his foot. "Take it and get out of the Park."
25. I didn't answer, but continued reading the paper.
26. Concepcion began talking to Lobardi, she maintained that I didn't have to
leave the Park because I was demonstrating.
27. Officer Lobardi argued that I wasn't demonstrating, and that the signs in
fact belonged to Concepcion and not me.
28. Concepcion replied that the signs belonged to both of us jointly, and
pointed out the fact that both of our names were on the sign.
29. Lombardi insisted that the signs did not belong to me, and that I had to
leave the Park.
30. I remained silent.
31. Lombardi radioed for a transport in preparation to arresting me.
32. Concepcion became upset and started asking me to leave the Park.
33. I told her that I was not going to leave because the officers had no right to
be doing any of these things. My wife, Ellen Thomas, who had been about 25 or 30
feet away, approached me and also began urging me to leave the Park. Ellen argued
that I had a lot of work to do, and getting arrested would be an unnecessary
34. Although I had other work to do outside the Park, I was very disturbed by
the officers' behavior, I felt as if an important principle was at stake, if police officers
where allowed to coerce private individuals to leave a public park simply because the
individual had spoken to a communications media representative. But, to make Ellen
and Concepcion happy, as well as to get some paperwork done, against my better
judgment, I gave into Ellen and Concepcion's urging, got on my bicycle, and rode past
35. "Are you leaving the Park?" Officer Lombardi asked.
36. Carrying my cup of hot chocolate, began riding north up the path in the
middle of the Park toward the Jackson statute.
37. While riding, I noticed an acquaintance, named Frank Wall 3rd, standing
near the signs which Ellen was attending, and about thirty feet from where the group
of Secret Service and Park Police officers were standing. I had been looking for
Frank to tell him I was in possession of some written materials he wanted to read, and
I would bring the material to the Park the following day.
38. I rode my bicycle to where Frank was standing, and arrived at Frank's
location at about the same time as Officer Lombardi.
39. "I told you to get out of the Park." Lombardi said.
40. "I've got something to say to Frank." I told him.
41. "Get out of the Park. Now!" Lombardi said.
42. "Right now I've got something to say to Frank."
43. "Get out of the Park. Now!" Lombardi repeated.
44. "You don't seem to understand. I told you that I have something to say to
Frank." I explained.
45. Lombardi grabbed me with such force that my hot chocolate spilled on
46. I was then handcuffed and transported to the Park Police substation on
Haines Point. Where I was told that I was being charged with disorderly conduct.
47. I requested that I be released on my own recognizance. Desk Officer
Grefe said that he would not release me unless a $25 bond was posted because I
didn't have a picture identification.
48. I objected, pointing out that all of the police officers present knew who I
was, a picture identification was unnecessary to ascertain my identity. Both Grefe and
Lombardi admitted that they knew me, but Grefe said, "I wouldn't have to release my
own mother or father if they didn't have an ID.'
49. "Right," I replied, "but you could release them, or me, without an ID if you
wanted to, couldn't you?"
50. Officer Grefe admitted that he could, and said he would think about it.
51. I was extremely cooperative at the substation, even cheerfully answering
questions about the whether abouts of my mother, father, and brother -- which I
normally wouldn't have answered, because I felt that the police had no business
asking them -- but I just felt like being cooperative in an effort to make the police
appreciate how unreasonable they were being.
52. As it happened, while I was being held at the Haines Point substation,
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Tarver was trying to contact me by telephone to
discuss timely issues relating to an ongoing appeal.
53. Ellen arrived at the substation with an identification card that had my
picture on it. She requested that the police release me, but they refused to do so
unless Ellen would post a $25 bond.
54. Ellen borrowed the money, posted the bond, and I was released at
I hereby verify, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and accurate
to the best knowledge and understanding. November 7, 1996,
1424 12th Street,
Washington, D.C. 20005
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