The Official Publication of the
Chicago Peace & Music Festival
by Dan D. Karam
I would like to share the plight of some friends of mine. They comprise the Anti-Nuclear Peace Vigil out in front of the White House. Thomas began the Vigil June 3, 1981 and to the best of his ability has been out there 24 hours a day 365 days a year for the past nine and a half years. He's given up everything the world has to offer, fortune, fame, power, friends and even family for what he truly believes in. Since then he's been arrested more than 30 times and has served a 90-day sentence behind bars. He has been and is currently involved with numerous court cases and litigation. He represents the front lines of a resistance that has somewhat been forgotten. But his presence and the vigil stand as a constant reminder to the heads of this country and millions who visit the White House every year, that all is not well in America.
Through the years the Vigilers have faced a series of crisis stemming from police harassment, street violence, drunken riots, hostile newspapers, all hinds of bad weather, and prohibitive litigation by park officials which amount to years and years of repeated attempts by various parts of the so called establishment to disrupt and eliminate the Vigil. Thanks to the tenacity and commitment of Thomas and his friends the Vigil persists.
Since the summer of 1982, the federal government has piled regulation on top of regulation, with the clear intent to stifle the vigilers and prune the First Amendment. On October 4, 1990, the Park Service announced its latest attempt to transform the Constitutional right of freedom of speech into a tightly regulated, government-controlled "privilege,"
The latest rulemaking, 36 CFR 7 PIN 1024AB93, would limit demonstrators to "three cubic feet", of "personal articles," including literature. For years vigilers have made available to the public, 24 hours a day, multiple copies of hundreds of different pages about issues of broad public concern which add up to over twelve Cubic feet of literature on display at one Sign alone. An estimated 3 million people ass the White House—and the vigil—each year (an average of 8,000/day). If it becomes law, the proposal would severely interfere with the ability to distribute literature on a diversity of ideas, and make the vigil even more arduous by making it impossible for vigilers to protect themselves from the elements.
In reviewing the history of First Amendment expression it is plain that, through legal precedent established by the adoption of this proposed rule, the restrictions would extend beyond the confines of Lafayette Park. Previous Lafayette Park regulations (e.g. "camping") have been used as precedent to stifle First Amendment activities across the nation-New Mexico, Nevada, California, Washington state, etc.
The government seeks to justify this rulemaking under the guise of "aesthetics." But to those in control, dissent has never seemed pretty.
In the name of freedom of thought and its expression THIS RULEMAKING CAN AND SHOULD BE STOPPED. The first step in stopping it is letters to the regulators in opposition to the proposal. These letters should be addressed to:
To insure that the Park Service doesn't make any more mistakes, it is vital that copies of any letters to Mr. Stanton also be sent to the vigil in care of:
National Capital Region
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Dr., SW
Washington, DC 20242
Most helpful would be your encouragement of others to participate in this comment process.
Thank you for taking the time to review this article and remember any letter, prayer or support directed to the vigil will manifest in something that will be worthwhile for everyone who truly believes in real freedom peace, happiness and love.
Save the First Amendment Committee
P.O. Box 27217
Washington, DC 20038