History -- Vigilers -- Friends
-- Other Protests -- Officials -- Regulations
Since Concepcion Picciotto's death on January 25, 2016, the vigil has continued day and night, thanks to the amazing dedication of Philipos Melaku-Bello with the help of supporters, including Neil Cousins, Mary Thompson, Craig Thompson (not related!), Joe Brown, Louis Wolf, and Lisa M. Coleman, even during the 2020 onset of the Covid-19 pandemic! Amy Daley with the National Park Service has been of great help during lockdowns caused by protests, official visitors, and the inauguration, and has been the go-between for the vigilers with the Department of Interior when Lafayette Park was closed soon after "Black Lives Matter" was painted on 16th Street from H to K Streets NW.
Philipos has been reporting on happenings in the park on the facebook page, Peace Vigil and Nuclear Protest at White House - William Thomas Memorial.
Several facebook pages have been set up to share keep up with the passions of vigilers past and present:
* The "William Thomas Memorial" facebook group was set up for people who have participated in the vigil during its long history to become members so they can share their memories and updates.
* The @WisdomandHonesty (William "Doubting" Thomas) public facebook page is available for visitors to post photos and links about what's going on in Peace Park right now!(Send your posts to Ellen Thomas by messenger if you have trouble posting.)
* The DC Anti-War Network facebook page was set up for those who were or are involved in other anti-war work in Washington, DC. Those who were part of DAWN during its heyday, please like and share, and bring us up to date with what's happening in your lives!
FYI, Tim Wilkerson's "The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue" won an award at the Orlando Film Festival, and is now available on Vimeo.
Aljazeera broadcast "The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue" in a 2-part series (scroll down the screen for the second segment), which has been in the making for seven years by journalist Tim Wilkerson, who will be entering the documentary into several film festivals. This is the story of four people who vigiled outside the White House between 1981 and now, interspersed with powerful descriptions by Dr. Helen Caldicott of the dangers of nuclear war.
Some Occupy DC folks have been helping Concepcion Picciotto as the White House vigil moves into its 31st year. They also moved into the Peace House in January, and hope to purchase it, are looking for investors as Occupy Peace House.
Meanwhile, a petition was posted at change.org asking President Obama to declare that the vigil is a protected National Peace Memorial. See the Huffington Post article, dated January 23, 2012 (the third anniversary of vigil founder William Thomas's death), "Occupy Group In D.C. Calls For Creation Of 'National Peace Memorial'"
It is with great sadness that we find ourselves having to sell the Peace House. The economy has been as hard on our long-time anonymous funder as it has so many other people. Ellen moved to the mountains of North Carolina after Thomas died in January 2009, and can no longer manage the house. She continues to spread the word about Proposition One and the new, improved version of the bill in U.S. Congress, she has become active in antinuclear efforts in the Southeast, and she works with Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Disarm Committee, which actively supports Proposition One. Ellen can be reached at email@example.com .
Concepcion has kept the vigil going, thanks to the help of Start Loving, Stephen Sweeney, and Debra Spikes (consecutively). She needs a sanctuary where she can take breaks now that the Peace House won't be available, and needs people to give her breaks mornings and evenings. Please visit her in Lafayette Park if you wish to volunteer your time or space.
Please Come to Lafayette Park, from noon Saturday, March 19, until Sunday, March 20, 2011, for a two-day celebration of vigil founder William Thomas's life and legacy outside the White House. People will bring drums, photos, stories, songs, ideas for a better world. We will share these days with the "STOP THESE WARS" actions sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Please Also Come to the Peace House Potluck on Sunday, March 20, at 7 pm. We hope all Thomas's friends can join us at 1233 12th St NW. After we eat we will show Tim Wilkerson's wonderful new biography of Thomas and three other vigilers, "Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue," which will soon be broadcast on Aljazeera. We are in the process of emptying the Peace House of memorabilia and tools, and we will have a silent auction plus giveaway of various treasures. Please rsvp Ellen Thomas or call 202-210-3886 if you have questions.
Doubting Thomas' "Free Philosophical Forum" stood outside the White House 24 hours a day from June 3, 1981 until a few weeks before January 23, 2009, the day Thomas died. Thomas's 27+-year colleague, Concepcion Picciotto, has courageously continued to vigil in Lafayette Park with photos of victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, with the assistance of Start Loving, who has very respectfully stepped into Thomas's shifts mornings and evenings, after two+ years of dedicated vigiling and fasting for peace and disarmament.
In the 1980's and early '90's, Lafayette (Peace) Park was a lively place, with demonstrations and traffic all the time. Under Clinton, Pennsylvania Avenue was closed and people were weaned from the park by inconvenient closures caused by security training exercises. After September 11, 2001, Pennsylvania Avenue became mostly a police hangout. But the vigil has remained, for over 28 years under the tutelage of Thomas, through all seasons and weather, under restrictive regulations, because the problems of genocidal weapons, wars, and encroaching police states remain.
Below is the diary of Ellen Thomas, since 1984 Thomas' wife:
Diary, March 19-20, 2011 - There will be a two-day celebration of Thomas's life and legacy in Lafayette Park beginning Saturday, March 19 and ending Sunday, March 20, 2011, at 6 pm, coordinated with Veterans for Peace. People will bring drums, photos, stories, songs, ideas for a better world. Then on Sunday, March 20, at 7 pm we hope all Thomas's friends will join us at the Peace House for a potluck, plus the first-time showing of Tim Wilkerson's wonderful biography of Thomas and other vigilers, "Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue," which will soon be broadcast on Aljazeera. We are in the process of emptying the Peace House of memorabilia and tools, and we will have a silent auction plus giveaway of various treasures. Please rsvp Ellen Thomas if you plan to come.
Diary, June 17, 2009 - We're on our way in the Proposition One Campaign "No War" Van. Follow the travels of our 2010 Campaign here.
Diary, March 19, 2009 - Today is the 25th anniversary of when I met Thomas in front of the White House. May 6th will be the 25th anniversary of our marriage in Lafayette Park. There will be a three-day Memorial in Lafayette Park on March 20-22, 2009, beginning at noon Friday. People will bring drums, photos, stories, songs, ideas for a better world. Please rsvp Ellen Thomas if you plan to come.
Diary, February 8, 2009 - The Lincoln Chapel was packed and overflowing at Thomas's funeral yesterday, at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. So many friends, covering decades. We ate and talked into the wee hours, celebrating Thomas's life.
Next week we will launch, in Thomas' memory, the "Proposition One in 2010" campaign to put on the ballot, everywhere possible, a call for global nuclear disarmament, an end to war, and conversion of the war machine to heal environmental wounds and provide for human needs. See http://prop1.org/prop1/
Diary, January 18, 2009 - two days before the Inauguration of Barack Obama. The city is full of people. The vigilers have been forced to move the signs several times in the past few weeks.
Diary, November 27, 2008 - Thanksgiving Day. Thomas was released yesterday from DC Jail, where he served ten days of 180 days he was sentenced to by Judge Gardner. We're thankful that Thomas is no longer in prison, but sorrowful that the judge has kept Thomas away from the park for the past three months, and has now ordered him to stay away for another year. Thomas is appealing the sentence, of course. How disappointing not to be able to greet President Obama!
Diary, August 8, 2008 - Thomas was arrested on August 4th. He was speaking into a microphone while sitting at his signs in the park, broadcasting from speakers maintained by Ron Kirk a few yards away in the pedestrian part of Pennsylvania Avenue. Officer Lane told Thomas he couldn't speak on the microphone while sitting in the park, but he could in the street. However, Thomas knew if he were to move into the street he would be charged with abandoning his signs. Thomas tried to reason with Officer Lane. Why? This was nothing different from what Thomas and Ron had been doing under the benign eyes of multple police officers for weeks! Free speech, right? Fortunately, a friend videotaped the whole incident. Thomas has filed a motion to quash the stay-away order.... More later.
This evening was the annual Nagasaki memorial candlelight vigil. Troy was watching the signs in Thomas's forced absence. Two Hibakusha were present: Mr. Hara, a Hiroshima survivor, and Ms. Ota, a Nagasaki survivor. The police made the group move into the street because there were more than 25 people. Often groups of more than 25 people come to see the White House and end up talking at the vigil, without police interference. It seems there's a push on.
Diary, October 8, 2007 - There have been demonstrations large and small for weeks. Several park closings for ever-decreasingly sane reasons. Secret Service muscling (are they bored? do they wish they could be protecting the diplomats rather than the demonstrators?). The temperature remains in the 80's and 90's, when it should be the 60's and 70's. Very popular this week at the Green Festival was the slogan (and organization) "NO WAR, NO WARMING." Warming is. What are we gonna do about it? Look at Proposition One for the barest beginning: where does the money come from? Convert the nuclear / war machines. Solar panels, windmills, tides, geothermal taps - not missiles, bombs, radioactive weapons, obscene profits from death.
Diary, September 21, 2007 - Thomas won one! The U.S. Attorney refused to prosecute. Some members of the Secret Service have been increasingly arrogant since 9/11, and need to learn that the First Amendment is still the most significant law of the land. Thomas has won one or two in the past, or he wouldn't still be in Lafayette Park after 26 years. Shall we start another lawsuit?
Diary, September ??, 2007 - Thomas was arrested by the Secret Service and charged with "disorderly conduct."
Diary, June 3, 2007 - A quiet 26th anniversary.
Diary, May 22, 2007 - We want to give warm fuzzy thanks to Park Police officers John Matula and Alfred Keene, who have independently made the decision to rescue our puppy, Sophia, and bring her back to us when she's decided to take off and explore the park, while we're confined by law within three feet of our signs. Thanks, guys, you give us hope for humanity.
Diary, May 19, 2007 - Many have heard of the "canary in a cage" which was taken into the mines to warn miners by its death that oxygen was scarce and they'd better get the hell out of there. The vigil in Lafayette Park is that canary in the American free speech cage. Recently the canary has been under attack by the Secret Service, which is creeping out from its traditional venue behind the White House gates, and now has all but taken over Pennsylvania Avenue from the Park Police. Thomas was arrested by the Secret Service on May 14, 2007. et
Diary, April 23, 2007 - Proposition One has been re-introduced into U.S. Congress for the eighth time (!) as HR-1826, and needs lots of phone calls to politicians and radio talk shows, letters and emails to politicians and news agencies, and personal visits to candidates' forums to ask "When will you co-sponsor global nuclear disarmament and conversion of the war machines to provide for human needs? Solar panels and windmills, not missiles and bombs!"
Diary, April 7, 2007 - For the first time ever in the history of the vigil, the spring tulips in Lafayette Park are PINK! Could Code Pink for Peace have a secret admirer? We asked them if they had anything to do with it. They checked with someone at the Park Service, who said the pink tulips caused a lot of trouble, with no obvious scapegoats; "the boxes were all stamped 'red!'" Perhaps God took a hand in this cosmic joke, or perhaps one of the 70-plus per cent of our country who want out of Iraq wanted to send a message. We'll be salvaging pink tulips when the Park Service rips 'em out of their beds in May. Let us know if you want one for your front yard?
Diary, re Hunger Strike Sudan Embassy - Jay McGinley (aka "Start Loving"), who has fasted on and off outside the White House on behalf of the victims of Darfur, has been on a hunger strike in front of the Sudanese Embassy since March 13th. The Washington Post published an article April 14, 2007. Jay's been interviewed by NPR and Aljazeera. He's still fasting, and hoping others will join him. For more information, check out Jay's website, or google "Hunger Strike Sudan Embassy".
Diary, March 29, 2007, Proposition One was re-introduced into US House of Representatives as HR-1826, the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act (solar panels, windmills, and other human needs, not missiles and bombs).
Diary, March 15, 2007 - We've had a rough winter in a variety of ways. Although January was balmy, February and early March brought snow and ice. There were numerous "park closures" for no logical reason, and Concepcion was repeatedly harassed by an overzealous rookie cop. Beloved Wiseguy died. And Thomas, unable to breathe, spent five days in the hospital. However, life is looking up. Thomas feels better after superb treatment by the staff at Howard University Hospital. It's spring, the best time of the year. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is re-introducing Proposition One for the eighth time this month. People are pouring into Washington D.C. to protest war in Iraq and Iran this weekend. And we have a new puppy (Sofia), who's being trained for sign duty.
Diary, January 2, 2007 - As 2007 begins, we have entered an era of unprecedented security display, as evidenced by the funeral celebration of President Gerald Ford. There were barricades up in Lafayette Park, whimsical closures, and intensive police presence for at least five days prior to the funeral on January 2nd.
Back in December, 1987, when Mikhail Gorbachev first came to town, the south sidewalk of Lafayette Park was closed for the very first time in history. At that time, Thomas appealed to the Courts for a restraining order. The government attorneys argued that this was a one-time event, but Thomas replied that allowing this park closure would be like letting the camel's nose into the tent; if the police got away with one closure, they would use that as a precedent for closing the park whenever they felt like it. Well, in 2007, the camel is in the tent.
Diary, August 6, 2006 - Thomas was arrested today by a new U.S. Park Police officer for not having an I.D.
Diary, Hiroshima Week, August, 2006 - As every year, people gather in Peace Park at 9:30 p.m. on August 8th, to remember the exact dropping of the bomb on Nagasaki.
Diary, June 3, 2006 - Today, the 25th anniversary of the vigil, we hosted a Speakout and Drum-in from noon until dawn. Particularly profound was the speech by Elizabeth McAllister of Jonah House. The Washington Post published an article by David Montgomery, which was picked up by papers around the country. Click if you want to send a message to Thomas, Concepcion, or Ellen.
Diary, March 20, 2006 - The third anniversary of the second Iraq war (Pentagon action today, big march against the war on the 18th), and Thomas' birthday. We're beginning to get the word out about the 25th Anniversary of the Vigil (June 3, 2006) - hope many people will join us from noon to dark to speak out against nukes, against wars, and for freedom of speech.
Diary, January 31, 2006 - State of the Union address tonight; Lafayette Park was closed. Thomas: "I was sitting at the vigil signs at 10 pm. I noticed a buildup of police in the park, and I was approached by three large, well-armed Park Police SWAT team members. I was politely, but very firmly, informed that I would have to leave Lafayette Park. I asked why. An officer responded, 'We're doing a security sweep.' As I started to leave the park, I noticed more police arriving, flashing red and blue lights at the intersection of 15th and New York Avenue on the east side of the park, also at H and Vermont on the north side of the park. That's when it occurred to me that this 'security sweep' was most likely a preparation for the return of the heavily-armored imperial presidential motorcade delivering the president back from his State of the Union address. What can I say? The president lives in fear. This extreme application of security casts doubt not only on the bravery of the president, but, assuming paranoia is a problem, on the sanity of federal police agencies."
Diary, January 15, 2006 - Today was Concepcion Picciotto's **th birthday, and Martin Luther King's 67th. Weather mild so far this winter: global warming at its least offensive. Police as ever lurking.
Diary, Excerpt from December 4, 2005 Letter to Secret Service - I'm confident that whoever was responsible for planning tonight's exercise in excess is smart enough -- hey, I've been wrong before -- to schedule things a bit more competently in the future. thomas
Diary, 9/24/05 - As I write this, just returned to my computer from a day in Peace Park and around the White House mingling with tens of thousands of antiwar protesters. The fact that people can gather en masse to protest today at the President's doorstep for the first time in a decade is a sham, because the police can close the park at the drop of a hat. et
2005 Hiroshima/Nagasaki events, August 5, 6, and 8 (pdf)
Diary, 3/15/05 - The second inauguration of George W. Bush (1/20/05) was the first ever that the vigil was completely forced from the park. Thomas wrote a letter to the U.S. Park Police, Secret Service, and Department of Interior requesting an apology and a promise that this will never happen again. Stay tuned to see if there are any results.
Come any day to "Beat Around The Bush - II" and help 43 understand what 41 learned to his chagrin ... it's dumb to kill people and lie.
Here are some recollections of events over the past couple of years:
Diary, Thanksgiving, 2004 - For the third year, vigilers provided a Thanksgiving feast at the Peace House. We thank Firehook Bakery, the Catholic Workers, and D.C. Central Kitchen for their weekday contributions of food during the past many years, which vigilers have given on the streets to homeless people, and to Central Union Mission, Racheal's, La Casa, and Bread for the City. We thank God for all the blessings - health, friends, peaceful encounters - which enable us to continue our efforts to bring sanity to a very mixed-up world.
Diary, 6/3/04 - On June 3, 2004, the 23rd anniversary of the vigil was celebrated by 30 close friends in Lafayette Park and at the Peace House. You're invited to come June 3, 2005 to show your support and agreement with the vigilers' core ideas.
Diary - We were really sad to hear from a visitor and read that Dr. Charles L. Hyder passed away on Tuesday, June 8th, 2004. His months-long fast for global nuclear disarmament outside the White House in 1986-7 stands large in vigil lore.
Diary, 3/15/04 - Someone set fire to Concepcion Picciotto's stand. See report in DC IndyMedia: http://dc.indymedia.org/feature/display/92718/index.php
Diary, 1/10/04 - Today the National Park Service has put up a high, screened fence and chopped down all the beautiful trees on both sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue. Where will the Lafayette Park squirrels go? The Pennsylvania Avenue redesign has begun with a very depressing thud.
Diary, 9/18/03 - As this is posted, Washington DC has battened down for Hurricane Isabel, and Thomas is preparing to ride the hurricane out at the vigil signs north of the White House. This week has been packed with major events: the hurricane, plus the memorials of two dear friends, matriarchs of the peace movement, Sita Akka Paulickpulle and Louise Franklin-Ramirez, whose websites will be expanding as we receive and process more material.
Update: Proposition One has been re-introduced into U.S. Congress as HR-1348 and needs lots of phone calls to politicians and radio talk shows, letters and emails to politicians and news agencies, and personal visits to candidates' forums to ask "When will you co-sponsor global nuclear disarmament and conversion of the war machines to provide for human needs? Solar panels and windmills, not missiles and bombs!""
Diary, 6/12/03 - For the past two weekends, a group of drunken U.S. military in civilian clothes have shown up on Saturday night after the tourists are gone and have physically and verbally attacked Concepcion Picciotto and her signs. The first week, Park Police came over to talk to the wannabe heroes and they left, but they returned last Saturday, and the police on duty that night did nothing. They promised to return next Saturday, with the intent of removing the vigil signs, and threats of physical harm to Concepcion. Concepcion is less than five feet tall.
Similar incidents occurred in past wars with thugs who either wish they were in the military, or resent that they're not overseas.
Conversely, once the excitement has died down, we find sympathy from people who actually served overseas. One of our volunteers was in Gulf War I; another in Vietnam; another served on a nuclear ship. It's too bad that each generation seems to have to learn that war is evil on their own.
Diary, 6/3/03 - 22nd Anniversary of the Peace Park Antinucler Vigil was celebrated in rain on Tuesday, June 3, 2003. It's been a rainy and snowy year; lush foliage, but vigilers grow tired of plastic. Thanks to those who braved the weather to congratulate the crew. There are rumors of monthly Rainbow picnics in Peace Park again (a tradition of the 1980s). The first could be July 4th? Contact us if you think it's a good idea: (Peace Park Crew - Subject: Peace Park Picnics)
Diary, 4/29/03 - Code Orange is back down to yellow, and the police have put on their human masks again. The air war in Iraq is over, Saddam is (like Osama) here there and everywhere but nowhere to be found. Tourists are braving police lines again (fewer Asians as SARS takes its toll). People are SCARED of homeland security and the Patriot Act. Activists are marching, leafleting, lobbying, planning, and getting arrested.
To Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org (published 3/30/03)
Re: 'Tormented protesters give us no moment of peace', 3/27/03 Washington Times editorial by Tom Knott
While we agree with Mr. Knott that entirely too many police are being diverted to demonstrations in Washington, DC, we don't think it's the fault of the demonstrators. We've never seen so many police and barriers around the White House.
In 1991, the Park Police dealt with people beating on drums in Lafayette Park during the first Gulf war with more than adequate precautions. There was a fence on the south edge of the Park, and a row of Park Police and their vehicles and horses in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. It seemed like overkill then (and it was), but compared to today, it was a puny show of force. The Park Police were perfectly able to deal with protests by dozens, hundreds, and at times thousands of people.
Now there's no protest without Secret Service officers giving orders, Metropolitan police brandishing insults and sticks, and Park Police keeping people out of the park.
In 1995 the Secret Service came out from behind the White House fence and proclaimed Lafayette Park to be the "President's Park." They have incrementally stolen the people's park, and that's a real crime. Lafayette Park was set aside by Thomas Jefferson over two centuries ago as the First Amendment front lines.
The Metropolitan police should go back to their neighborhoods and let the trained Park Police deal with the demonstrations. The Secret Service should be reminded that they are working "for the people" to protect the President, but not to destroy our rights. And the fences along H Street should come down.
The SECOND Gulf War At Home
Diary, 4/11/03: As the killing grinds north through Eden, and propagandists topple symbolic Saddam in a Baghdad park empty of all but tanks and troops and newly-embedded Iraqi exiles (see IndyMedia story), the ground war begins in earnest in Lafayette (Peace) Park, north of the White House. Double iron fences have been brought in, ominously black, blocking all views of the White House, in preparation for at least three demonstrations April 12th and thereafter: anti-war in Iraq, anti-military in Latin America, anti-globalization a couple of blocks up Pennsylvania Avenue at the IMF/World Bank headquarters. Vigilers wonder if they will again be trapped inside the prison walls when the people raise their voices. Perhaps we can take comfort that some of the police won't be able to get through the iron fence (or shoot tear gas through it) any more easily than anyone can get in. No doubt there will be more than enough jackboots, bludgeons, guns, and masks outside the fence to impress the distressed with military might. Let's hope DC police haven't picked up Oakland's bad habits, and aren't armed with rubber or wooden bullets or orders to shoot.
On March 19th, March 20th in Baghdad, the Bush administration began Operation "Iraqi Freedom." Concepcion Picciotto, who has been maintaining a vigil for global nuclear disarmament, peace, and justice outside the White House since 1981, was trapped behind police lines, when US Park Police and Secret Service shut down Lafayette ("Peace") Park.
For the opening hours of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" the park was closed to the public, yet ironically, Concepcion was allowed to remain. At 6:00 p.m, when Concepcion's regular relief came to sit in for her evening food-and-hygiene break, he was not allowed inside the police barricades and was unable to communicate with her. Concepcion would not leave her signs because she feared the police would remove them if she left, under a regulation that requires demonstrators to remain within three feet of their signs. (See http://prop1.org/regs.htm)
At 7:00 pm Thomas, co-founder of the nearly 22-year vigil, went to the Park to figure out what was going on. Eventually, after numerous personal and telephone communications, the Park Police finally agreed to allow Thomas to enter the Park to relieve Concepcion. But he couldn't remain in the Park with Concepcion, because "only one person can watch the signs." This is a new escalation of illogic at America's front lines.
The Washington Post reports about the March 20th actions, "Nearly 30 Arrested At Lafayette Square".
PLEASE FORWARD TO EVERYONE WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED. Email us if you have questions (mailto:email@example.com), or you can call 202-210-3886.
2003 has been an intense time, with huge peace marches and huge snows past, and huge peace marches ahead. March 8th, a Women's March For Peace brought a close to the winter-long peace vigil by "Code Pink, a Woman's Vigil and Fast for Peace," which arrived in Lafayette Park on November 17, 2002. Members of the Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil were delighted to welcome these effective, focused folk, even though the Park Police began making some harsh rulings in wintry weather. See "Peace protests near White House growing," and "Where the Cold War Continues," and "Protesters say new group spurs crackdown."
March 15th was the "Emergency Antiwar Convergence on the White House."
Let us know if you would like a copy of "The Ground War At Home," which documented police misconduct and the Drums of Peace Park.
On December 6, 2002, in a blanket of snow, Philip Berrigan died at Jonah House in Baltimore. The funeral on December 8 and 9 was overflowing with people transformed by his and his family's lives. Prayers were said for three nuns, normally members of Jonah House, who are in prison for Plowshares actions. Weekly vigils continue outside the White House each Friday at noon to stop war and sanctions in Iraq.
2002 was a very quiet year around the White House. After the attacks on New York and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, permits were no longer issued for demonstrations larger than 25 people, and tourists found they didn't really need to visit Washington DC or the White House, after all. Vigilers were told that they may have to remove the signs from their then-20-year location. Vigilers responded that the signs would not be voluntarily removed unless there is a permanent closure of Lafayette Park, following legal procedures. This seemed to work. Over a year later, on December 12, 2002, the vigilers decided to temporarily remove two Proposition One signs so they could be repainted, repaired, and returned. As winter war drums beat across the street, vigilers were told by a police officer that the Proposition One signs wouldn't be allowed back. Only one quiet set of signs remained to endure through the nights, mounds of snow, bitter cold, and police indifference.
Please write the President and ask him to tell the Park Police to allow the Peace Park vigilers to return and remain, unmolested, at their normal locations on the south sidewalk of Lafayette Park.
Early 2002 - On Valentine's Day 2002 President Bush rode slowly past in his limousine and gave vigilers a thumbs-up sign -- not the first time he's done this. We always wonder what he's thinking. (If you have any ideas about what might be going through his head, write firstname.lastname@example.org.)
When the President's in town, a cluster of SUV's pump carbon monoxide into the air of Pennsylvania Avenue, while Park Police and Secret Service drivers gossip out their windows, puff on cigars, or snooze. If a stray demonstrator raises his voice, they zoom in to interrogate his purposes. When the President's out of town, most police are elsewhere.
Rudy was told he can't fly his distress flag above "Wanted: Wisdom and Honesty" sign, or be caught lying down at 6 am, lest he be arrested. He persisted in flying his flag, and it was stolen. He just smiled and drummed, and we advertised Drums outside the White House from 4 to 6 pm, to stop the war on innocents.
If forced to leave the park, vigilers will be found at St. John's Church just north of Lafayette Park. It would be helpful for people to rally with the vigilers and show support. Come drum for and end to the war insanity every afternoon. You can use sticks or soda cans full of pebbles, but make some noise for peace. Stop by for a few hours whenever you can.
The tug-of-peace between calcified thinking and swift furry messengers (Officialdom vs. Squirrel Brigade) is memorialized by Walt Root's Rudy Stolfer, vigiling from September 1998 to December 2002.
Students: For years the Closeup Foundation has had the intelligence to include our vigil as the "First Amendment in Action" on their tour of "The Government in Action" for young people and teachers who come to Washington DC from around the world. We've been pleased to receive requests for information from student groups, or messages from those who have decided to work on Proposition One at their schools. We hope that you will dig deep into what's offered here for your education. We want to make it easy for you to heal your damaged Earth. Read the news about the bad AND the good; browse through history of the First Amendment; of nuclear accidents and safety; visit the links page. Sign on to or send your own version of our recent letter to the U.S. Senators. Write us with any questions. Get involved!
THANKS! -- We're grateful to all who have helped in the past, those who will in the future, and those who are the SO-necessary volunteers right now.
Thanks to the well-wishers who expressed their concern for Thomas, rear-ended by a sporty Jesuit priest while riding his bike in December 2000. Another lesson in patience has ended well, and Thomas has recovered much of his strength, working on the Peace House.
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Be sure to tell all your friends they should drop by Lafayette (Peace) Park across from the White House and visit us in person. The vigil is always there; no matter who else comes or goes, you'll find us on the edge of 1601 Pennsylvania Avenue, or as close to it as we can get.
WE LOVE YOU!
Peace Park crew