USDC Cr. No. 84-3552
THOMAS v. REAGAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
vs. CA No. 84-3552
Judge Louis Oberdorfer
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et. al. Magistrate Arthur Burnett
DECLARATION OF ELLEN THOMAS
I, Ellen Thomas, under penalty of perjury, declare the
following is true and correct to the best of my knowledge:
1. During the depositions taken August 21 and 22, 1986,
Magistrate Burnett made it clear that his perception of this suit
was that it dealt ONLY with William Thomas ("Thomas"), that it is
NOT a class action, nor does it address the rights or issues of any
2. During the many thousands of hours during which I have
worked with Thomas on the preparation of this case, I have labored
under the belief that the Court recognized we were addressing the
question of whether the defendants in this case have been
implementing and selectively enforcing regulations against not only
Thomas, but all who choose his method and location of questioning
the policies of this administration. If true, I believe that, in
the words of this Court uttered on July 19, 1984, this "threaten(s)
the liberty of us all."
3. In the wake of the Magistrate's remarks I am concerned
that Thomas' and my efforts are being misunderstood or otherwise
trivialized by limiting this action to such personal injury as he
alone might have suffered.
4. Therefore I file this DECLARATION as a founding repre-
sentative of plaintiff PEACE PARK ANTINUCLEAR VIGIL (aka "Co-Peace
Int'l") and a member of the class of people who were formerly
exempted from permit restrictions in maintaining a 24-hour
long-term vigil or other demonstration in front of the White House.
5. On April 13, 1984, I quit my job as Executive Assistant to
the Chief Executive Officer of the National Wildlife Federation in
order to devote myself full time to the elimination of nuclear
6. The method I chose for doing this work was a 24-hour
vigil in Lafayette Park utilizing signs, literature, a speaker's
platform, and my own physical presence.
7. Prior to embarking upon this expressive crusade I had
always had a house to live in. I had always considered those
houses to be my "living accommodations." I left my last home with
considerable reluctance. I did not relish the thought of giving up
my "living accommodations" to live in the streets. (See exhibit 1,
pp. 37-4l, 107.)
8. Except for my conviction that a 24-hour vigil in front of
the White House is the most effective means of communicating with
the greatest number of people that is available to me, I would be
far, far away, enjoying physical comforts rather than enduring
physical hardship to express my opinions on matters of pressing
public concerns. (See Washington POST article December 14, 1984,
Exhibit 10 hereto; see also 36 CFR 50.19(e)(11)(12) Administrative
Record (Ad.Rec.) p. 1.B.15-.22) at I.B.21, last paragraph.)
9. Three times I have been arrested for "camping," and have
been accused of using Lafayette Park as a "living accommodation,"
as a direct result of my demonstrative actions.
10. Two of the three times I have been arrested for camping
during the course of my expressive activities (June 6, 1984 and
October 10, 1984) I was acquitted. The third time (June 23, 1984),
the charges were dropped.
11. I had not been accustomed to being arrested. Those
experiences caused me to suffer anxiety, emotional stress, physical
discomfort. All in all I found the arrests to be quite unpleasent
12. More important to me than my personal unpleasant
experiences, however, has been the fact that these arrests have
resulted in the disruption of my expressive activities.
13. Initially it was my concern about nuclear weapons which
impelled me to make the radical change in lifestyle that brought me
to Lafayette Park, but my experiences in the Park have expanded my
14. Although I still consider the threat of nuclear genocide
to be my first priority, my experiences of having regulations
selectively and harshly applied against me and some of my friends,
terminating actions which caused absolutely no harm and the sole
intent of which was to communicate, has led me to the conclusion
that freedom of communication must also be considered a high
15. Before devoting myself to communication in Lafayette
Park, I believed the police to be, for the most part, agents of
good. Unfortunately many of my experiences with all too many U.S.
Park Police officers since then have caused me to think
differently. Now the image of the police as a powerful source of
social repression is one which has come to concern me greatly.
16. For those reasons, reluctantly, I became involved in this
lawsuit to the detriment of my expressive activities in the Park.
17. Up until the filing of this lawsuit, which has
requiredenormous amounts of time, Thomas and I maintained a
constant presence with signs.
18. Lately our signs have been in storage a great deal while
we prepare to go to trial. I profoundly regret this, as I feel the
urgency of the nuclear threat is such that I should be spending
every minute I can working to eliminate it.
19. Perhaps the greatest source of mental anguish for me,
though, has been the nightmarish thought of what it will mean to
American society if an individual, pure of heart and committed to
the betterment of humanity, must suffer such abuse at the hands of
the police so as to discourage her (or him) from continuing to
speak out against wrongs that must be righted, as I have repeatedly
20. During the two-and-a-half years I have attempted to
maintain a 24-hour-a-day vigil there have been a number of people
who have also chosen this method of communicating on numerous
issues, and for varying degrees of time.
21. The majority of those people quickly lose interest and
move on to other pursuits after enduring the physical and mental
hardships of being exposed to the elements, the threats, abuse,
and/or arrests of police officers, and the whims of any and every
person who passes through Lafayette Park.
22. Particularly during the winter, Concepcion Picciotto,
Thomas, and I have been the only people consistently in the park,
with the exception of a homeless woman known as "Betty" and, during
the month of December, 1985, Dr. Charles Hyder (who returned
Easter, 1986, and has maintained a continuous peace vigil in the
park ever since.
23. It has been my experience that during the late spring,
summer and fall, a variety of people are attracted to the park.
24. In the warmer months, for example, homeless people
traditionally come and go, sleeping on benches or the grass in
Lafayette Park. (See, e.g., photo at Complaint para. 103; see also
photo at Ad.Rec. I.J.221; see also Washington POST article
September 1978, Ad.Rec. I.B.28-.29, at I.B.29.)
25. In accordance with our religious beliefs and moral
principles, both Thomas and I try to treat these people, who tend
to gravitate around us, with care and respect.
26. Some of these people choose to make their own signs,
which, as a rule, they soon abandon. (See, e.g., photo at Ad.Rec.
27. Prior to the promulgation of 36 CFR 50.18(e)(11)(11) I
saw Park Service workers remove many of these abandoned signs.
(See, e.g., photos Ad.Rec. I.J.229, I.J.179-.180.)
28. Some people who frequent the Park during pleasant
weather have stashed their bags of belongings near our signs.
I have never encouraged people to store property in the Park. On
many occasions I have explained to people that storage of property
is frowned on by the Park Service. I have never impeded the Park
Service in the removal of stored property.
29. During the spring and summer of 1984, a homeless Vietnam
Veteran by the name of T.J. Jones created loud disturbances and
brought in large quantities of dumpster materials, which he would
dump near our signs. (See Trial Exhibit 139.)
30. During the spring and summer of 1984, Officer David Haynes
frequently drove his cruiser through the park, across the grass and
the brick sidewalks, to within inches of where we were sitting,
standing, or lying, or came striding up with his nightstick in hand
in what seemed to me to be an effort to intimidate us.
31. On June 6, 1984, at 6:00 a.m., I was one of three
demonstrators assaulted and arrested by U.S. Park Police Officer
David Haynes. Officer Haynes falsely charged us with assaulting a
32. Although the Grand Jury refused to indict any of us on
that fallacious charge, it remains on our records. The charge has
caused me problems with other police officers.
33. Just prior to Officer Haynes' assault on me I photo-
graphed Officer Haynes using excessive force on my husband, Thomas,
with our Chinon 35 mm. camera.
34. Thomas had used the same camera to photograph Officer
Haynes, assisted by Officer Gerald Simons, punch Robert Dorrough
three times in the back of the neck with the knuckle raised on his
right fist while Robert knelt, unresisting, his hands cuffed behind
35. Thomas hollered at Officer Haynes while Haynes was
hitting Robert, and Haynes whirled, saw Thomas holding the camera,
and came at him.
36. Thomas tossed the camera at me only a moment before
Officer Haynes grabbed Thomas around the neck and threw him against
me, retaining his hold on Thomas' shirt (which ripped in the
37. We fell against our mobile speaker's platform, which
38. Haynes then grabbed Thomas and hurled him against our
large "REVELATION, THIS NEED NOT BE YOUR END, IT'S UP TO YOU --
STRIKE FOR PEACE" sign (painted with a nuclear explosion).
39. Haynes kicked Thomas, who had fallen, then grabbed him in
a stranglehold briefly until several Secret Service agents arrived
to put handcuffs on Thomas.
40. This all happened quite rapidly, and I too shouted at
Haynes, "We've got you NOW!" as I snapped several photographs.
41. Officer Haynes stepped away from Thomas and toward me,
extended his hand, and barked "Give me that" -- apparently meaning
42. Fearful that Officer Haynes would destroy the
photographs, I tossed the camera toward David Manning, who was
sitting on the grass.
43. Officer Haynes grabbed me around the neck in a chokehold.
I couldn't breathe.
44. Fortunately, after a moment Officer Haynes loosened his
hold, slung me down on the ground, and told me not to move.
45. I didn't move until I was taken into custody by a female
officer who arrived with other USPP officers shortly thereafter in
some force, along with National Park Service trucks which were used
to remove all our signs and speaker's platform, under National
Park Service permit since May 30, 1984. (See inter alia para. 51;
see Trial Exhibits 137, 138.)
46. When I was being placed in the back seat of a cruiser, I
asked the officers who were then holding me in custody for my
camera. I was told I could have it later.
47. At the substation on Hains Point I again asked for my
camera. I was told I could retrieve it from the property office
when I was released.
48. We were detained for a very long time at the substation.
Shortly after noon all seven of us who were arrested were taken out
to the paddywagon, and held there for nearly two hours in brutal
heat. We were delayed so long that we didn't arrive at the Central
Cell Block until it was too late to be brought before the
Magistrate. This delay resulted in our being held overnight.
49. Concepcion Picciotto and I were handcuffed together in
the back of the paddywagon while being transported to D.C. Jail
that afternoon when it became clear that we weren't going to get
before the magistrate. This was physically painful. When I
complained about the discomfort to the officers driving the
paddywagon, they ignored me.
50. On June 12 Thomas and I were finally able to obtain a
ride from a friend and went out to the property office, where we
found several of our signs and much of our literature tossed into
51. Our mobile speaker's platform, under NPS permit since
May, had been totally destroyed and was in paint-splattered pieces
in the dumpster.
52. We inquired at the office for the camera, and were told
by Property Manager A.C. Thomas after a search that he didn't have
53. Subsequently both Thomas and I asked our attorneys to
inquire into the whereabouts of the camera.
54. Finally, some months later, my attorney (Steve Milliken)
notified me that the camera had been found. We were told that it
had been stolen by a Park Service employee named David Harley.
55. I notified the prosecutor that I was the owner of the
camera, and I was subpoenaed.
56. I appeared in Court November 20, 1984, February 22,
March 12, April 8, and May 22, 1985. Each time I appeared the case
was continued after several hours of sitting and waiting.
57. During one of those waiting periods I talked with David
Harley, who told me his story.
58. He couldn't understand why he was being prosecuted, he
said, because Park Service employees often found all sorts of
valuables when cleaning up the parks after public gatherings, and
sometimes took them home.
59. He said he found the camera stuck underneath some tools
in a hard-to-reach nook of the truck cabin while preparing to do
some work out on Hains Point, where the truck had been sitting,
unlocked, for some days. He said he had taken the camera home to
his daughter when he found it. He told me she hadn't been able to
take good pictures with it, and he thought it was broken. However,
it was obvious when I questioned him that neither one of them
understood how to set 35 mm. cameras.
60. I told him the circumstances of my arrest, and that I
thought he was being prosecuted because this was a political case.
61. I told both him and his attorney I was going to testify
to that effect in Court.
62. After over a year, but before the final disposition of
David Harley's case, Sergeant Jerry Jones brought the camera to
Lafayette Park and released it to me. The lens cap was missing as
well as the (36 exposures of 35 mm 400 asa Kodak) film.
63. I immediately photographed a roll of pictures, which came
out fine (although the rewind mechanism was now dysfunctional). I
had set the speed and F-stops for the lighting conditions before
handing the camera to Thomas on June 6, and as an ex-professional
photographer I can state with assurance that if we had been able to
keep the film of the June 6 arrest, the photos may have been
slightly out of focus, but we would have had adequate photographs.
64. On July 18, 1985, I again went to the Superior Court to
testify in the case against David Harley.
65. I spoke with the prosecutor. I told him I planned to
testify that I thought David Harley was being used as a scapegoat
for Officer David Haynes, who had every reason to want the camera
lost since it had contained condemning evidence.
66. When I went to the Courtroom shortly thereafter I was
told by the Clerk that the case had just been dismissed by the
Government. I have since obtained a copy of the computer printout
which indeed confirms that to be true. (See Trial Exhibit 148.)
67. At or about 6:00 a.m. on June 23, 1984, Thomas and I were
leaning against one of our new signs reading when we were arrested
by Officer Haynes and charged with "camping." Our signs and
literature were again confiscated.
68. We spent the weekend in jail because of a lengthy delay
in taking us to the Central Cell Block. Charges were later
69. During September of 1984 Officer Haynes spent five days
testifying under oath trying to assign to us responsibility for the
truckload of T.J. Jones' junk which Officer Haynes had confiscated
along with our signs at the time of our arrest on June 6.
70. At the end of those five days, U.S. District Court Judge
Joyce Hans Green dismissed the case against us. I heard her say
that Officer Haynes' testimony was, at best, questionable, and that
"to continue further with this trial would turn prosecution into
persecution." (See Trial Exhibit 142.)
71. Although Officer Haynes was definitely the most obvious
of the Park Police officers who were opposed to our presence in the
park, he was not the only one. Other officers frequently
threatened us with arrest for simply lying down near our signs.
More than one officer has told me he or she was only following
72. On July 17, 1984, a friend by the name of Casimer Urban
Junior, while protesting the recent Supreme Court decision in CCNV
v Clark, was arrested in my presence for pretending to be asleep
in broad daylight in front of a sign which read "WELCOME TO
REAGANVILLE, 1984, WHERE SLEEP IS CONSIDERED A CRIME." (See
Complaint filed November 21, 1984, para. 100.) (See exhibit 1, pp.
67-70, for an accurate representation of what I observed July 17,
73. Casimer, who asked to represent himself, was over protest
assigned an attorney, one Charles Chisholm, who recommended that
Cass be committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital.
74. Mr. Chisholm refused to return our phone calls.
75. As a result of our concern for Casimer, we made many
attempts to obtain a different lawyer for him (including leaflet-
ting traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue, for which I was arrested in
76. We rebuilt the speaker's platform, destroyed during the
June 6 arrest (supra. para 51), and obtained an amplifier, two
microphones, and four speakers. We used this sound system during
September to talk about Casimer's hospitalization resulting from
his attempts to communicate, as well as about nuclear weapons. We
would wheel the speaker's platform to the center of the Park during
the hours we were allowed under our permit to hook it up to the
electrical outlet (see Ad.Rec. photo at top of I.J.2), then wheel
it back to our other signs in the southeast quadrant of the park in
the evening (see photos at page 76 of the Complaint).
77. For the first couple of days we were told by different
police officers a variety of sound levels at which we could
broadcast. We tried to comply with their orders.
78. Nevertheless Patricia Bangert and Carolyn O'Hara came to
the park and told us, in the presence of a Park Police officer,
that we could broadcast at "4" (out of a possible volume of "10").
79. Shortly after Ms. Bangert and Ms. O'Hara left, Thomas and
I ran an errand, leaving another demonstrator in charge of the
amplifier; a half hour later we returned to find that he had turned
the volume back up. We turned it down again, and told him if he
didn't comply with the Park Service instructions he couldn't use
80. To the best of my knowledge there was no recurrence of
the problem. We received no more complaints from the police.
81. We had no functional amplifying system in the spring of
1984, although we did have a speaker's platform; and since fall
1984, we have only used the amplifying system once or twice, each
time within the limits set by Ms. Bangert.
82. We had been in daily telephonic contact with Casimer
Urban Junior while he was in St. Elizabeth's, and were informed
that he was being forceably injected with a drug named Prolixin.
After doing some research on this drug (made from jellyfish
poison), I became intensely concerned for my friend's welfare. On
October 3, 1984, I climbed a tree in Lafayette Park trying to
attract attention to Casimer's plight. I was successful.
83. As a result of my action attorney John Copacino took over
the case, and in late November 1984 Casimer was finally brought to
trial after 5 months of incarceration, and (reluctantly) found not
guilty of camping by Judge Norma Johnson, and released.
84. I was removed from the tree by a SETT team in the early
morning hours of October 10, 1984. When I returned to our signs
later that day I discovered Thomas had been arrested and all of our
signs and the NPS-permitted speaker's platform had once again been
confiscated. (See Complaint para. 117; see also Affidavit William
C. Wardlaw, Trial Exhibit 163.)
85. On October 15, 1984, Thomas and I brought to the park two
light-weight cotton banners which read "Hey, King Ronnie, the
Police stole our signs!" and "There they go again!" I hung them
with light string along the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the
snowfence which had been erected between our signs and the sidewalk
in September. Within an hour several police officers began cutting
the banners down. When I attempted to salvage one of the banners,
it was sawed out of my hands by one USPP officer with a dull pocket
knife, while two other officers held my arms. (See photos,
Complaint page 89, para. 118; compare Trial Exhibit 164.)
86. When we retrieved the speaker's platform in November
1984 we discovered it had been partially (and unnecessarily)
dismantled. (Compare inter alia para. 97; compare photo Complaint
87. In November 1984 we were told by the National Park
Service to move our signs back into the northeast corner of
Lafayette Park, where we were virtually penned behind snow fences
and, in January, behind a chain link fence. There was virtually no
traffic past the signs and we felt quite invisible (and bitterly
cold). But we persevered. We were finally allowed to move back to
the Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk in late February, 1985.
88. In the spring of 1985 William Hale arrived and, like T.J.
Jones the summer before, discovered the delights of D.C.
dumpstering. He turned the park into a dump. He also built a very
large sign on the grass which, for the most part, he left
unattended for nearly a year. (See, e.g., Ad.Rec. I.J.77 (at
exhibit 2 herewith).)
89. The Administrative Record compiled by Ms. Bangert and Mr.
Robbins as justification for 36 CFR 50.19(e)(11)(12) eloquently
provides documentation of William Hale's activities as the mainstay
of their argument. (After 36 CFR 50.19(e)(11)(12) was published,
William Hale left town.)
Case Listing --- Proposition One ---- Peace Park