Letter to the Editor
Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil
January 20, 1989
P.O. Box 27217
Washington, DC 20038
Dear Washington Post,
Thank you for printing a photograph of my signs in your January 20th edition.
Photographs do not lie.
I do, though, have problems with about every word that you bothered to print -- concerning our eight year old, 24 hour-a-day vigil, of which I have been a member for the last 2 years.
In the course of the 19th and 20th (of Jan.) you managed to name us (vigilers) as."residents" and "campers." We neither reside nor camp in Lafayette Sq (Peace Park, please).
In 1982, the Dept. of Interior created the "camping regulations." These regulations were responsible for six fellow vigilers spending 2-3 months in jail last winter, and threatens to end the vigil permanently. We are currently in court to prove that these regulations have been enforced illegally.
We vigil. That is why we are called vigilers -- because we do all the things that vigilers do: collect signatures on our petition; pass out leaflets; encourage discussion and awareness of key issues: to eliminate all nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; to negotiate for an end to armed conflict; to use our resources for humanitarian needs, not ideological wars.
This, generally, is the purpose of our vigil, and was the message being generated on Friday, the 20th, even with the addition of many other demonstrators, who were here for one day only.
We welcomed their energy. After all, many of them are friends of ours, members of the Washington--area peace community. The fellow who was yelling (occasionally) "rich pigs" was present for the cause of Aids research. He, himself, has Aids, many of his friends have died of Aids, and he's pretty upset about our
government's policy thus-so-far concerning Aids.
Another fellow demonstrator was from Central America, and he was demonstrating against the United States' funding and training of death squads. Despite the fact that he has lived under the fear of death squads, and knows of many people being killed by death squads, he was amazingly polite.
The mostly white, rich, privileged people -- of whom I am, unfortunately, one -- "slip past uneasily" such a display of raw reality, anxious to be in more comfortable surroundings, where things Rappear" to be democratic and just.
At this moment, wars are being fought, lives are being lost, and whole populations suffer so that the world can be "made safe for democracy."
You should, therefore, embrace our right to vigil, and our many causes, because -- after the last dissenters have been put in jail -- "freedom" will no longer be available as an excuse to stockpile weapons and wage war. At present, it is a very THIN excuse.
After my personal vigil of 2 years, and the fact of the continuous vigil of eight years, I find your ignorance of our cause to be very troubling and deeply insulting.
Brett Hamrick (Song)