Posts Tagged ‘White House Peace Vigil’


Protest Van

I never know what kind of protest I might come across when I go for a bike ride in D.C., but I can practically guarantee that I will see at least one protest.  From the hate-filled protests by the Westboro Baptist Church, to people flying the Confederate flag, to groups that gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building whenever a controversial decision is announced, to The White House Peace Vigil, this city always has somebody somewhere protesting something.

One of my favorite kinds of protests are the ones like this van, which I saw on a recent bike ride, that combine advocating for a cause with an unusual vehicle.  These “Rolling Protests” on wheels often travel throughout the city, so you never know when the timing will be just right to happen upon one.

But even after stopping to read the writing that appears all over it, I’m still not quite sure what the owner of this van is protesting.  It is covered with religious writings that mention Jesus, the Holy Ghost and Jehovah, as well as political writings that touch on a number of diverse subjects, including government corruption, outsourcing jobs, hate crimes, and Bain Capital.  There are also phrases on the van which read “God is Jesus a Black Man from Egypt Ham Land” and “The Holy Ghost is Against Kroger Texas.”  The van’s license plate indicates it is from Texas, and reads “7 Jesus”.

If you click on the photos included in this blog post you will be able to see the full size versions of the photos, which make the schizophrenic-like writing on the van easier to read.   So if you do, and you think you understand the van owner’s message, please let me know.



The White House Peace Vigil

The national capital city routinely hosts a variety of protests.  Some are one-time events, while others are ongoing.  And they range in size from hundreds of thousands to just a few.  From marches down Pennsylvania Avenue to crowds gathered in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building, there is almost always multiple protests taking place in D.C. on any given day.  Currently the longest-running protest in the city, and perhaps the longest-running protest in United States history, is The White House Peace Vigil.

Located in Lafayette Square Park (MAP) across from the northern portico of the executive mansion, the White House Peace Vigil, also sometimes referred to as 1601 Pennsylvania Avenue, is an anti-nuclear weapons peace vigil started by William Thomas Hallenback Jr., better known simply as Thomas, in June of 1981.   Concepción Picciotto, known as Connie, joined Thomas in the protest in August of the same year.  At times over the years, various other activists have helped man the vigil.  And despite Thomas’ death in 2009, the vigil still continues to be maintained around-the-clock by the tiny and weather-worn 77-year-old Conchita, along with other volunteers.

Over the last 33 years the protest display has been a fixture outside the White House, but there have been two incidents when the anti-war protest display that is a fixture outside the White House has been temporarily removed.  It is routinely moved back from the White House and further into Lafayette Park during Presidential inaugural parades, as well as during times of heightened security and other limited occasions.  But it was actually shut down twice last fall after volunteers abandoned the watch during the night and the display was left unattended in violation of the laws that regulate protest efforts on Federal land.  U.S. Park Police dismantled the small, makeshift encampment and seized the protest materials after the volunteers walked away during the night.  When other volunteers arrived to man it during the morning shifts, the vigil was gone.  Both times the materials were retrieved from the Park Police, which had placed them in a Park Police storage facility for safekeeping, and he vigil was continued.

And it still does today.

UPDATE (1/26/2016):  Sadly, Connie passed away at the aged of 80 on January 25, 2016, at N Street Village, a non-profit organization that supports homeless women in D.C.  However, others have vowed that the White House Peace Vigil will go on.

On one of my bike rides not too long ago I came across a 15-foot flatbed truck carrying what appeared to be the world’s largest roll of duct tape.  My first thought was one that many men would have, “Wow. I could fix just about anything with that.”  Unfortunately, however, what appeared to be an enormous roll of duct tape was just a prop.

The prop and truck were labeled “Emergency Bridge Repair Team” and it is a rolling protest by the Laborers International Union of North America.  The protest pertains to the House of Representatives delay and then subsequent failure to pass the highway bill that had been previously approved in the U.S. Senate.

The union is of the opinion that 2014 is a critical year for the U.S.’s infrastructure. As President Barack Obama alluded to in his State of the Union address, they believe there is an issue in D.C. that, if unaddressed, could bring the American economy to a halt: the expiration of the federal transportation bill and the impending insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.

Last spring, the American Society of Civil Engineers released the 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which awarded our nation’s infrastructure a GPA of D+. A grade of D+ is not a something any of us would be proud of our children for bringing home on their report cards.

Like with most issues in D.C., there is agreement that there is a problem.  The disagreement is in what to do about the problem, and how to pay for it.

There are protests of one type or another occurring in D.C. every single day.  From groups with signs marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, to crowds gathered in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building, to more quiet and solemn protests like the White House Peace Vigil in Lafayette Park.  However, this is the first time I recall seeing a “rolling protest.”  And that’s one of the reasons it’s always so interesting to ride a bike around D.C. – you just never know what you’re going to see.