Re: White House Arrest - April 23, 1999, 12:30 p.m.
CONTACT: 202-462-0757 - Thomas - 1601 Pennsylvania Avenue
At 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 23, 1999, 18-year vigiler for peace William Thomas was arrested outside the White House, standing up for freedom of assembly and freedom from violence while Albanians chanted "Bomb! NATO, bomb!" nearby.
"NATO's motto is 'safeguarding freedom,'" Thomas said as he stood quietly by his sign waiting for the police to decide whether or not to arrest him. "I am very confused. The President just two days ago said that differences should be resolved through words, not guns. Today he's taken over the city to hold a party whose main purpose seems to be to decide how many guns there should be, and where they're going to use them. To secure this party, they're kicking the public out of the parks."
In a letter to Stan Lock of the National Park Service on April 19, 1999, Thomas wrote, "(O)nce security is allowed to run amok, freedom is lost. And that is not only my opinion, but one which is gaining widespread popularity:
"'The time has come, says Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), to have a "national conversation" about the need to make federal architecture secure during perilous times and yet to keep it vital and open.' See ... 'A Capital Under Security's Siege,' Washington Post, Saturday, April 17, 1999; Page C1."
"This is the sort of thing that we need to have a 'national conversation' about," Thomas said as the police approached today. "If I can't get a national conversation going, then at least maybe I can talk to a judge about it, and maybe that judge will understand what freedom means."
Video clips available.