After 35 years of continuously protesting in front of the White House, Concepcion Picciotto, a Washington, D.C. fixture, has died. Picciotto, who was in her 80s, made a name for herself taking a stance against the U.S.'s possession and willingness to use nuclear weapons and its support of nations with similar capabilities.
Over the nearly 40 years and six presidencies that she protested, Picciotto was notoriously tight-lipped about what, specifically, inspired her to move to D.C. and set up a tent directly across from the White House. In interviews, Picciotto was known to keep her messaging tight and focused on the necessity of disarmament, but in her personal blog, she was much more revealing.
Though she's now passed, Picciotto's original website remains and it tells the fascinating story of a woman who, after entering into an abusive relationship with a controlling husband, ultimately found her freedom advocating for global peace.
"We have to remove the president before engaging into a nuclear war, because we cannot tolerate to go with more excuses and lies to Iran or North Korea or any other country, why they support Israel who proliferate the world with nuclear weapons," Picciotto posted to her website. "Israel is spying on the United States, and this world war has to be stopped."
In the early '80s, Picciotto joined William Thomas and Arthur Harris as protestors in residence near the White House front law. Their persistent presence on Pennsylvania drew attention from both the media and the police, eventually leading to a number of arrests and a renewed dedication to their cause.
"I intend to fast until the American government recognizes the ideals from which it draws its authority and allows me to live my life as I see fit," Thomas wrote in their Manifesto of Independence. "This is not an act of self destruction but an effort to persuade this nation to return to the principles of the Declaration of Independence upon which it was founded."
In 2013, D.C. Park police attempted to shut down Picciotto's peace vigil after a police officer noticed that it had been left unattended. Under D.C. law, this meant that authorities would finally be able to close Picciotto and her followers down. The vigil was spared thanks to last minute intervention by Congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
"She is well known for her willingness to engage in principled activism at considerable personal costs," Norton said of Picciotto "She and her friends and allies have abided by the rules, and this single mishap by a fellow activist should not torpedo her longstanding vigil. In this city, we work together to find solutions.”