NUTS not NUKES
by SQUIRRELS for PEACE
of Police Interview
1601 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC 20038
Anti-nuclear squirrel activists lay siege to "President's
Park." They have enlisted the assistance of human activists
to help them with their dilemma.
Squirrels once roamed the Great Forest that spread from
Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. Now they are confined to smaller
sections of forest or patches of woods where clear-cutting and
other intrusions of human civilization don't threaten their very
This fact, coupled with a fierce
sense of survival prompted the squirrels to act. A small group
of focused squirrels have teamed with the anti-nuclear activists
currently occupying an 18-year round-the-clock vigil in Peace
(Lafayette) Park, to advise them how to best get their message
to the powers responsible for destroying their habitat. This proved
to be the really tricky part.
Squirrels are not really considered capable of articulating
well with humans, seeing how they are "just" lower life
forms. Despite this supposed disadvantage they were determined
to be heard.
One day long ago (relatively speaking),
a new anti-nuclear vigiler was reading scripture while sitting
in the park, and read a passage about a messenger named Timothy
who would be arriving soon. As he read on, a large gray squirrel
walked up onto his lap and a beautiful relationship was born.
Over the next few months Timothy brought other squirrels, Jack,
Hannibal, Dancer and Ninja, to meet the human activist and relay
their concerns about their problems, and discover what could be
Beginning to understand the culture of the squirrels was
quite an eye-opener for their human counterparts as more of their
individual personalities became apparent. Some squirrels were
more trusting than others, climbing on your lap and allowing themselves
to be petted as they ate. Others maintained their wild nature
by keeping their distance or getting aggressive if the human would
get out of line.
As gathers, the squirrels'
lifestyle is pretty basic; find food, build a nest, make more
squirrels, don't get eaten by the hawk. All other activities seem
to focus around these basic concepts, which leaves a lot of time
As ambassadors of furry and cute, the squirrels are the
real number one attraction in the park, and they know it
often posing for photos by the many tourists from around the world,
or climbing over the humans that they feel are worthy of their
always putting on a show as well as keeping themselves
ready and alert in their hostile environment.
While the overall situation for humans and others deteriorates,
the bond between squirrels and activist strengthened. It was time
to take things to a new level.
Enter Juan Quixote. His philosophy:
Acorns are okay, but peanuts are junk food, even to city squirrels.
Things started to change. "Squirreling," would never
be the same!!
A normal peanut usually looks like an overweight solid
figure eight. Starting with a short string, perfect for tying
a around the peanut's center, "squirreling" was born.
Squirreling not only provided a method for training the squirrels
in anti-nuclear activism, but after some research and development
also provided a unique message delivery system.
The first encounter turned into
a tug-of-war with a squirrel who wasn't about to let go of its
reluctant peanut. The three foot string provided a good tug. Sometimes a squirrel would grab
the nut and take off only to lose it as soon as the string reached
its end. They would sit there momentarily, wondering where the
nut went. But the squirrels quickly figured out efficient ways
to remove the peanut. The most effective, clamping on or locking
down with their back legs while biting the peanut in the center
and pulling the ends, split the peanut in half. Scooping up both
halves, the squirrel would scurry off to enjoy its spoil.
Upgrading to a longer string provided much more versatility
and expanded the training. Coupled
with the tug-of-war, an aerial aspect was added to the training.
This was done in two ways, suspension and freestyle. Suspension
required running the string across the sidewalk, over a rope fence,
and leaving the peanut just off the ground. When a squirrel grabbed
the peanut, a little tug set the grab and Dangling Squirrel would
happen. Some were more efficient than others, but each one got
its peanut. Freestyle was more diverse, ranging from the basic
dangling, through things like Tarzan-like swings from human to
human, or growling fur-ball in the open hand.
As with all movements, not all squirrels cared to participate
in training, as some were more inclined to get fat at the buffet,
and ham for the tourists. But as the humans need to learn, other
critters' presence on this planet directly relates to humans blowing
themselves up. It seems to many that disarming might be a good
idea and overcoming differences to communicate about these situations
It was now message time. First
attempt was with an anti-nuclear button on a string with a peanut
tied to the other end. Just like the Wright Brothers, it didn't
go far but it did open the door to the next critical step. It
also drew a comment from one Park policeman, made during an aerial
session with the squirrels, asking the vigilers how they would
like it if he was to tie a baloney sandwich on a string, a non
sequitur, possibly referring to McKenna's Wagon, a daily soup
and sandwich service for the street people.
This was the first volley from the Other Side. It also
brought an end to the day's training sessions. But some police
officers had different opinions, and armed with ambiguity, "The
game was afoot."
After some serious brainstorming came the final creative
step. Going to the magic shop, the humans
got some really long balloons, the kind magicians twist to make
animals. While the squirrels helped themselves to an acorn buffet,
several humans tried to blow up the balloons. This proved to be
quite a task, but shortly the balloons were ready to assemble.
A short string was tied to the balloon on one end, on the other
a peanut. Markers were then used to add the messages of "NUTS
NOT NUKES" and "Squirrels for PEACE."
The first day went kind of slow. Being a nice fall day
a lot of people were in the park; that meant a minimum of players.
The squirrels who had decided not to play didn't think much of
the idea and rejected the peanut once they sniffed the string,
but as luck would have it, some took to the task at hand.
Most of the squirrels either
frantically scampered into the park, where they would either lose
the balloon or it would pop, or they would head directly up the
closest tree. A huge Elm tree, next to the vigil signs, became
adorned with the colorful balloons, some in the high branches,
others adorning the branchless 35-foot trunk; the message started
to spread. Everybody really seemed to have a good time, people
laughed, pictures were taken and memories were born. More importantly
the word about the need to disarm and learn to get along was spread
throughout the world, without any negative feed-back from the
park police!! And the squirrel got its peanut.
The next day there were fewer volunteers but the effects
were fairly similar, except for one park
policeman, who assumed we were just goofing off. On two separate
occasions that day, the policeman took the activists' balloons
and broke them. He never read them, he just asked the activists
if they didn't have anything better to do. The activists asked
if there wasn't something better for the officer to be doing.
Undeterred, the officer then said not to give any more peanuts
to the squirrels, but didn't say anything about the balloons already
The activist left the balloons
in the acorn buffet, hoping one would get across the street. We
are talking about eliminating the threat of destroying life in
our own biosphere, a subject a lot of people feel is very relevant.
He complied with the officer's order not to give the squirrels
more peanuts; however, another activist, learning of the dilemma,
took a couple of balloons to the western side of the park.
There the squirrels took the
game up a notch. Taking a balloon at the far side of the park,
one brave squirrel ran around the area to the west, over to our
eastern side of the park, made a couple of evasive maneuvers,
then ran straight for the White House yard, cleared the fence
and stopped. He then continued through the yard and as he started
up a big tree the string caught on the bark and the squirrel dropped
the balloon. Soon a "yard ninja" appeared and retrieved
the balloon. The same officer that warned about the peanuts then
walked over to the other activist, broke his balloons and gave
him a message to relay: No more balloons or suffer ticketing and/or
arrest. The balloonists took the rest of the day off. Watching
the first of many balloons to make the journey across the street
capped a great day, and displayed the squirrels' willingness to
act as messengers.
A week or so later, out of balloons, the training went
back to string practice, considering the relevance of squirrel
and vigiler activism. Walking by the Magic Shop on the way to
the park, the activist bought more balloons. After all, it was
Halloween weekend. The balloons were labeled "natural latex"
and marked completely bio-degradable, unlike the nuclear waste
produced by all of our weapons of mass destruction.
A beautiful weekend. The crowd kept the squirreling to
a minimum; although several squirrels
did grab balloons, most broke, but a few made it to nearby trees
and across the street. One in particular: while talking to a visiting
German family, the activist's conversation turned to the balloons
sitting in the buffet, waiting for their squirrel. As the vigiler
explained the process, a squirrel showed up; standing on his hind
legs, he acted anxious to play. The little girl held out a balloon
with the peanut on the string. Immediately the squirrel grabbed
the peanut and with balloon in tow ran directly toward the White
House. Just as the squirrel went through the fence the balloon
popped. The little girl took a very happy memory of her Washington
DC visit home....complete with pictures.
On Sunday the park was busy all day and squirrel activity
was at a minimum. During the afternoon
a film crew started a shoot in front of the White House, a lot
of activity and noise. The movie was about the Cuban missile crisis
and the staged scene was a protest march. The vigiler asked for
one squirrel to volunteer to take a balloon through the shot.
As luck would have it, the candidate didn't get there till after
the cameras stopped rolling. Still it was a valiant effort, right
through the middle of the "set," through the fence,
and into the yard. Unfortunately, the balloon broke as the squirrel
ran center stage toward the big fountain in the middle of the
Squirrels and humans still need to work on their timing,
but most people surveyed about the idea thought it was a very
effective way to deliver the message.
Late in the afternoon, after returning from a recruiting
mission to another part of the park, the vigiler was again pulled
over by a member of the park police. This time the officer's excuse
was a report of people tying objects to the squirrels. Observing
the absurdity of the officer's explanation of the events and his
alleged concern for the squirrels' safety (seeing how one squirrel
was lying in the road, roadkill from police-car zoomings?), the
vigilers simply complied with the officer's order not to give
any more balloons to the squirrels that evening.
When taking on an opponent that completely controls all
aspects of the event, the only chance one has is persistence.
Survival of life that we have grown used to is being seriously
threatened by the very forces we count on to provide for our safety.
The proliferation of the war machine is way out of hand and the
enforcement of petty laws to protect its voracious appetite are
undermining the very fabric of all that has been accomplished
till now. With that in mind the squirreling must go on.
The next day dawned bright. By now several people were
helping with the project, blowing up balloons, writing messages
on them, and stringing the peanuts. Once these were ready all
we needed were some volunteers. Then, the fateful
journey, a squirrel grabbed a balloon and was off and running.
Running towards Concepcion's signs, he stopped long enough to
get her to notice and try to get the balloon, but as soon as she
got close he took off again. He continued down the sidewalk then
cut left and across the street right in front of the officer sitting
on his motorcycle, up onto the sidewalk and through the White
House fence. The balloon caught on the fence and the squirrel
lost the peanut. This prompted the officer to get off the bike
and start to retrieve the balloon; just as he crossed the sidewalk,
the squirrel returned for the peanut and the balloon disappeared
through the fence. In the yard another squirrel appeared and chased
the messenger back outside the fence, who weaved down the fence-line
still dragging the balloon; finally, re-entering the yard, the
Shortly the officer came over to the signs and informed
the humans not to tie any more peanuts to balloons. A difference
of opinion ensued as to the relevance of the participation of
the squirrels in activism. The officer then stated that the actions
of the squirrel could be a threat to national security, and stated
a concern for the safety of the squirrels and littering. The humans
complied with the officer's order not to tie anything else to
the peanuts. He didn't say anything about the balloons already
assembled. After a couple more balloons were grabbed by squirrels
the officer returned and made the humans disarm the rest of the
balloons. He also became quite demeaning about the vigilers' lifestyle,
telling them they had no life and that they were losers. He also
elaborated on his possessions and financial addictions as qualities
to be desired.
The vigilers disagreed but complied with the officer's
order. Soon another officer came by to say that the Sergeant would
be by to show us the regulation covering the officer's order.
A visitor from the west coast covering another demonstration then
proceeded to tape an interview with the officer and later an interview with a spokes-being of Squirrels for
PEACE. "That would be 36 CFR 2.2, the basic premise of which states
no feeding, touching, handling or otherwise interfering with the
wildlife" in national parks, the Sergeant advised.
Although Lafayette Park is owned by the U.S. Department
of Interior, it's in downtown Washington DC, surrounded by traffic,
buildings, and people. Peanuts are traditionally sold on the edge
of the park by licensed vendors. Regulations ruling Yosemite and
Yellowstone have been called upon twice now to stop creative protests
outside the White House. Drummers were temporarily silenced in
1991 by a "60-decibel" rule which the U.S. Court of
Appeals later decided didn't apply to downtown D.C. Now, the squirrels
are under siege.
As of now squirreling has been suspended, but the squirrels
and the activists look for new ways to draw attention to the unjust
policies that threaten everybody's existence. As new methods of
non-violent non-compliance are researched, we furballs will stay
ever vigilant in the pursuit of freedom.
PEACE AND ACORNS............ SQUIRRELS for PEACE
p.s.- as of press time rumors have it that squirreling activities
in the park have resumed!! Stop by and find out for yourself....