Conception Picciotto

February 04, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Since 1981, Concepcion Picciotto has remained outside of the White House as part of a peace protest against war, nuclear arms, corruption, and mass violence. Inspired by fellow activist William Thomas, Picciotto joined Thomas in June of 1981 while he was protesting in front of the White House. The National Park Service moved their protest to the rear of the White House in LaFayette Square shortly thereafter, where she has remained since. When Thomas died in 2009, Picciotto begun to rely upon the support of fellow activists, along with the emergence of Occupy members. Under National Park rules, someone must be present at her vigil 24 hours a day. Hence, she relies upon other activists to speak to visitors and watch the encampment so she can step away to rest and eat. In September of 2013, a man whom was scheduled to watch the encampment abandoned it in the middle of the night, prompting police to dismantle the shelter. With the help of supporters and the Park Service, Picciotto was soon allowed to re-establish the vigil.

On the way home today, I stopped by to talk with Picciotto and take a few photos of her. Such a soft-spoken, compassionate and perseverant individual is a rare sight at the White House and in D.C. Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of my visit was her story of a squirrel she found between her vigil and the White House along the pedestrian walkway. Apparently "they," which I assume to be the Park Service, have found squirrels to be a nuisance. So, they use poison and other methods to keep their numbers down. On the morning I stopped by, Picciotto found a poisoned squirrel along the pathway, being passed by tourists, police officers, and businessmen. Picciotto moved the dying squirrel to rest at her feet. As I left, I had one thought in my head: If life is indeed a nuisance to those who would rather look the other way, then perhaps peace is a fool's errand. Still, to err on the side of peace and compassion is better to err on the side of all else.

Concepcion PicciottoFor the past 33 years, activist Concepcion Picciotto has maintained a protest for peace and disarmament of nuclear warheads. Concepcion PicciottoFor the past 33 years, activist Concepcion Picciotto has maintained a protest for peace and disarmament of nuclear warheads. Concepcion PicciottoFor the past 33 years, activist Concepcion Picciotto has maintained a protest for peace and disarmament of nuclear warheads. Concepcion PicciottoFor the past 33 years, activist Concepcion Picciotto has maintained a protest for peace and disarmament of nuclear warheads.


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