USDC Cr. No. 84-3552
THOMAS v. REAGAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
WILLIAM THOMAS, et al
Plaintiff Pro Se
versus CA 84-3552
Judge Louis Oberdorfer
UNITED STATES, et al
PLAINTIFFS' SIMPILIFIED TRIAL BRIEF
On September 22, 1986 plaintiffs filed a Trial Brief,
supported by many hundreds of Trial Exhibits (Tr. Ex.). To fully
appreciate the scope and pattern of the elements of the conspiracy
alleged in this Complaint it would be necessary for one to read the
Trial Brief, and immediately reference each relevent Trial
Exhibit, perhaps a demanding task. Essentially this Simplified
Trial Brief is the September 22nd Trial Brief, with the addition
of key quotes from the various Trial Exhibits. The purpose of this
re-write is to simplify the issues, and make perusal of this
material as conveinent as possible.
FACTS NOT IN DISPUTE
l. At least as early as June 5, 1981, the Secret Service
knew Thomas represented himself as a "writer and philosopher" who
was promoting a viewpoint in diametric opposition to the viewpoint
promoted by the administration. "(Thomas) stated that he
was a non-violent person who objected to being in this country at
what he feels is against his will. (Thomas) stated that he went to
the Soviet embassy to present them with a book he had written, and
to prove that there is nothing to fear from the Soviet Union.
(Thomas) expressed concern about nuclear destruction of the world,
and believes that nuclear weapons are made because of the fear that
this country has of the Soviet Union....
"Copies of the following entitled literature were obtained
from (Thomas), and are being forwarded to ID under separate cover:
Manifesto of Independence, Truth and Assorted Red Herrings, Parable
of a Prophet, Parable of a Beast....
"(Thomas) feels these writings best express his philosophies
and actions.... (Thomas) was calm, congenial, and understanding of
our interest in him during the interview."
(TRIAL EXHIBIT [Tr. Ex.] 1 (a),(b),(c),(d),(e), Secret
Service (S.S.) report, June 16, 1981.)
2. At least as early as July, 1981 at least one U.S. Park
Police (USPP) officer knew that Thomas was "demonstrating," but
arrested him under color of regulation.
"On 7-6-81 I observed (Thomas) sleeping on the White
House sidewalk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He has been
sleeping in this area since June 2, 1981, and has repeatedly been
asked to stop. He stated he was 'demonstrating' and that sleeping
is part of his demonstration. He was advised that he may
demonstrate in the area, but he must not sleep. He refused and
stated that it was his right to sleep there.... He was transported
to D-1 and issued a CFR #778381 in violation of 36 CFR 50.27(a)."
(Tr. Ex. 2, USPP report, July 7, 1981. SEE ALSO, inter
alia para. 135.)
The charge was not prosecuted, and no probable cause was shown
(Magistrate's Recommendation, January 13, 1987, pg 19).
3. The Secret Service was also aware of the nature of this
arrest, and that Thomas claimed to be demonstrating.
"Thomas was attempting to sleep on the White House
sidewalk and refused to move on stating that he was continuing his
demonstration against the White House."
(Tr. Ex. 3, Secret Service Report, July 6, 1981.)
4. Also in July of 1981 legal advisers of the Park Police
should have known that Thomas was exercising a "clearly established
right," and that stare decisis in this District had held
"sleeping," within the context of a demonstration, to be protected
activity. Art Spitzer, Legal Director of the American Civil
Liberties Union, National Capital Area, contacted Diane Kelly,
Department of Interior, Solicitor's Office, and politely:
"asked her to look into the matter (of Thomas' July 6, 1981 arrest)
bearing in mind the D.C. Circuit"s decision in United States v.
Abney, 534 F2d 984 (1976)."
(Tr. Ex. 4, Art Spitzer letter to Thomas, May 10, 1983.)
5. Defendants should have known that Thomas was articulating
an issue of broad public concern, and that onlookers were likely to
understand the message intended to be conveyed by Thomas'
"Thomas ... is entirely coherent. He just lives in a world of
the abstract, as a street corner philosopher, engaging curious
passersby in Socratic dialogue on Freedom, Truth, and the meaning
"'The main point I'm trying to make' he says, 'is that the
Earth is a unit. It's a whole thing. It's not compartmentalized.
And what people do is to divide this unit up with imaginary lines,
and then they start wars over those imaginary lines. This is not
"Thomas recalled a conversation with Victor Doreshenko, an
employee of the Soviet embassy where Thomas had been arrested for
unlawful entry: 'I told him that I thought the mutual build-up of
nuclear weapons had to do with mutual fear between the two nations,
and he said: yes, he thought that was true. And then I told him
that in order to prove to Americans that they have nothing to fear
of the Russians, I wanted to surrender myself to the Soviet
(Tr. Ex. 5, Boston Globe, August 27, 1981.)
6. As early as November 2, 1981 members of the National Park
Service illustrated a "meeting of minds" by admitting they would
use activities of the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) as
a pretext to arrest Thomas, and those thought to be his associates:
"The (Park Service) officials indicated to (CCNV) that they
would use the occasion (of CCNV's) proposed demonstration (on
November 27, 1981) to deal with the protesters in front of the
(Tr. Ex. 6, Mitch Snyder declaration, June 30, 1983.)
7. The Park Service affirmed that "symbolic camping" was
allowed under regulations:
"As we explained at the meeting (November 2, 1981), Park Service
regulations, while allowing some form of symbolic camping, do not
permit camping primarily for living accommodations in undesignated
areas such as Lafayette Park. Your proposal as presented would
utilize tents and other equipment primarily for living
accommodations and is therefore not permissible under the
regulations. Our suggestion that you erect a number of tents for
symbolic purposes, while providing shelter for people in designated
Park Service camping areas, was not acceptable to you." (Emphasis
(Tr. Ex.7, Manus Fish letter, November 13, 1981.)
8. In November, 1981 the Park Service recognized an
administrative responsibility to pursue a reasonable approach to
preservation of Park resources with respect to demonstrations,
thereby tacitly betraying their intend re Thomas.
"The regulatory language makes it clear that the National
Park Service allows all groups to erect, and to use such structures
to the same extent as those constructed in connection with
Government sponsored, or co-sponsored events.
"In administering this regulation, minor injury to the turf
resulting from the construction of temporary structures will not
result in permit denial or revocation. Moreover, it has been the
longstanding policy of the National Park Service to make available
to all groups, irrespective of their views or purpose, in
conducting their activities, a level of visitor services (e.g.
security, sanitation facilities, water, etc.) commensurate with the
size and nature of the activity."
"The National Park Service does permit the use of symbolic
camp sites reasonably related to First Amendment activities."
(Tr. Ex. 8, Federal Register (Fed Reg), Vol.46, No. 219,
November 13, 1981, p. 55960, 55961.) (Emphasis added; COMPARE,
Amended Complaint, para 104.)
9. During November of 1981 "demonstrator" "William Thomas"
was the target of a "criminal investigation" by the agents of
defendant Lindsey. This investigation centered on a specific
activity (i.e. "Vigil," "demonstration"), and illustrates another
"meeting of minds."
"Photographs for this report were requested by the
Solicitor's Office of the Interior."
(Tr. Ex. 9 (a),(b),(c),(d),(e), various Park Police Case
Incident Reports, November 12 to 14, 1981, Nature of Incident:
10. Defendant Robbins' office was acting to direct that
"investigation" toward a definite object.
Q: (By Mr. Vanderstar, counsel for plaintiff ERA) "Do
you recall why you asked the Park Police to photograph
demonstraters sleeping on the sidewalk at four o'clock in the
morning on November 13, 1981?"
A: (By Mr. Robbins) "I expect it was in support of a
(Tr. Ex. 10, ERA v. Watt, USDC CA 83-1243, Richard Robbins
testimony, December 13, 1983, Transcript pg. 37.)
11. Trial Exhibits 9(a)-(e) make absolutely no reference to
photographs being taken of the CCNV demonstration in Lafayette
Park, likewise none of the reports provided by defendants in
discovery appear to mention photographs being taken of that
demonstration Therefore Mr. Robbins' testimony at his deposition in
this case was, at best, somewhat hazy, and, at worst, a deception
intended to mask his true motives in furthering a conspiracy:
Q: (BY THE COURT) "Just to clear up the record, is it your
testimony also, your recollection that the photographs were being
taken not only of the people in the park, but also of the people on
A: "I don't have a recollection of the White House sidewalk."
Q: (BY THE COURT) "So you don't know whether they were
photographing people on the sidewalk or not."
A: (p. 26) "My recollection is that photographs were taken
(on November 27, 1981) prior to effectuating arrests on the White
House sidewalk; I don't know the time period. I know Lafayette
Park well because that was the main focus and that was the main
location of the (CCNV) demonstration."
(Tr. Ex. 12, Robbins Deposition August 22, 1986, unofficial
Thomas transcript, p. 25-26.)
12. The record shows that Defendant Robbins was present at
counsel's table when AUSA Lawrence made the following
representations with respect to the proposed CCNV demonstration:
MR. CRAIG LAWRENCE (pg. 38) (for the Government [Watt]):
"The position of the Department of the Interior is that the
demonstration is proper, a symbolic campsite is proper, a
continuing presence is proper. ...
(pg. 39) "What the distinction that is made is, is that
camping, providing living accommodations for these plaintiffs in
the park on a continuous basis or on any basis to provide living
accommodations, is what is prohibited."
THE COURT: "What is the difference?
"Suppose some poor unfortunate person doesn't have any place
to stay and he just happens to lie down in the area of 17th and
Pennsylvania Ave. and he is just plain fatigued. Do you mean to
tell me that even though he may be one of those who asserted and
protested that he decides he wants to stretch out on the park bench
there and go to sleep, he couldn't do it?"
MR. LAWRENCE: "As to that particular individual, Your Honor,
we are obviously beyond the question of the application of the
First Amendment or not, and we are obviously not in the question of
camping or not.
"What is the issue here is camping in the park, and conducting
what would be typical camping activities in Lafayette Park.
"Now the Department of Interior, as evidenced by Exhibit C
(Manus Fish letter to Mitch Snyder, dated November 13, 1981, supra.
para. 7), has exhibited willingness to work with these
(Tr. Ex. 13: TRANSCRIPT: CCNV v. WATT CA-81-2844 TRO HEARING
BEFORE JUDGE RICHEY, JUDGE BARRINGTON D. PARKER, NOVEMBER 24,
1981 SEE Plaintiffs' Second Motion to Supplement Trial Exhibits.
Defendants' persistant unwillingness to "work with these plaintiffs
(See Third Declaration of William Thomas, filed March 6, 1987,
para. 67) may be seen as an exhibition of defendants' bad faith in
resolving any legitmate problems which may have been caused by
13. Defendant Robbins also listened from counsel table while
AUSA Lawerence made certain comparisons to USA v. Abney and Quaker
Action Group cases:
THE COURT (pg. 21): "Are you familiar with the case of
the United States v. Abney, 534 F2d 984?"
MR. LAWRENCE: "Yes, Your Honor.... (pg. 22) "(P)laintiffs do
not even rely on that case as any support for their position here."
THE COURT (pg. 28): "What part of the land area did the
Quaker Action Group involve?"
MR. LAWRENCE: "Your Honor, that was an overall challenge to the regulations at issue. I am not sure exactly where the Quakers
-- it is my understanding that for a while they conducted a vigil
on the White House sidewalk."
(Tr. Ex. 14; TRANSCRIPT CCNV v. WATT CA- 81-2844, TRO HEARING,
JUDGE RICHEY, NOVEMBER 25, 1981, SEE Plaintiffs' Second Motion to
Supplement Trial Exhibits.)
14. Although defendant Robbins certainly should have known
Thomas' activity on the White House sidewalk was clearly
established as protected (Supra, para. 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and
13), the Park Service proceeded to execute its pre-planned (Supra,
para. 6) pretext to arrest him .
"On 11-26-81, Thanksgiving Day, the National Park Service
issued a permit to the Community for Creative Non-Violence to serve
meals to the'street people' of Washington, D.C.... At
approximately 1630 hours I observed the removal of tents from a
truck that was parked on H Street N.W., at 16th Street.... Six
tents were erected in the grass area adjacent to the comfort
station by 1715 hours. A total of nine tents had been erected by
1800 hours.... On 11-27-81, the undersigned met with (Deputy Chief)
Lindsey, and Assistant Chief Herring, in Lafayette Park at 0600
hours. We surveyed the area, and then met with the NPS Solicitors,
Rick Robbins, and Diane Kelly. Mr. Rick Davige, Deputy Assistant
Fish and Wildlife Service was also present.
"With the assistance of the Central District wagon, the
S.E.T.T.personnel then responded from the rear of the White House
to the H Street side of Lafayette Park. The tent area was
surrounded by the officers, and I read the following prepared
violations: 'Attention: You are in violation of Park Service
regulations 36 CFR 50.19 and 50.27 ... You are instructed that you
must leave this area with your equipment within fifteen minutes, or
be subject to arrest....' At 0650 hours all persons who remained in
the tent area were advised they were under arrest.
"At the same time Sgt. Swerda and Officer P. Johnson read the
same statement to persons on the White House sidewalk. Three
arrests were made by Officer Johnson (on the White House
(Tr. Ex. 15(a), Lt. J. Schamp, U.S.P.P Case Incident Report,
November 29, 1981. SEE ALSO, Tr. Ex. 15(b), Officer P. Johnson
Case Incident report, November 27, 1981.)
Charges against Thomas were not prosecuted. No probable cause was
shown (Magistrate's Recommendation, January 13, 1987, pg 19), and
Thomas suffered various injuries.
15. Upon release from jail, Thomas wrote an explanation of
his demonstration which he distributed to various Park Police
officers; which read in part:
"My personal experience has led me to conclude that the United
States, in pursuit of its own pleasure and comfort, is actively
engaged in the destruction of the planet on which I live, and which
I hold to be the property of my Creator. To work within the system
that comprises the United States, is for me, to contribute to this
destruction. On the basis of my religious principles I refuse to
make this contribution, in effect, I refuse the beastly mark
without which one may not buy, sell, or trade within this society
(Revelations 13: 15-19) . Because I cannot buy, sell, or trade I
am forced to live on the streets, and subsist on what society
throws away. So my very existance is a demonstration of the manner
in which a truly moral person is compelled to live within an amoral
(Tr. Ex. 16, Thomas notice, November 27, 1981.)
16. Defendants admit responsibility; "the enforcement of ...
regulations in which the activity may be a part of a First
Amendment expression should be delayed until consultation with
A: "There are occasions when...we'll advise the Park
Police as to the best way to make the arrest, that is, how to build
the best case..."
(Tr. Ex 11, Deposition of Patricia Bangert, August 22, 1986,
unofficial Thomas transcript at 12-13.)
The facts prove (e,g, Supra, para. 10, 14), or at the very least,
strongly indicate (e.g. Inter alia para. 17, 18, 19), that on more
than one occasion the Park Police have been "advised" of the "best
way" to make arrests without probable cause.
17. Defendants' agents carried out the object of the alleged
conspiracy to plaintiffs irrepairable damage.
"(O)n December 10, 1981 ... Mr. Thomas was issued two
notices for being in violation of 36 CFR 50.19 'demonstrating,' and
36 CFR 50.27, 'camping.'"
(Tr. Ex. 17, USPP Case Incident Report, USPP Officer Jackson,
December 10, 1981.)
It is also undisputed that:
"after being taken to the U.S. Park Police District One
Substation ... (Thomas) was taken by ... two officers... to the
intersection of 30th and Southern Streets, S.E., and ordered out of
the police vehicle. Mr. Thomas also alleges that when he demanded
that the officers return him to Lafayette Park, Officer Anderson
told him that he could not return to that location because "the
President and Mrs. Reagan live there.'" (Second Declaration of
William Thomas, at para. 14-20). Magistrate's Recommendation,
January 13, 1987, pg. 9.
The charges against Thomas were not prosecuted. No probable cause
was shown. (Id. pg 19). In addition to the obvious damages which
resulted from these actions, and the similar actions which followed
over the course of the years, Thomas has also suffered the
infliction of psychological, and emotional stress.
18. Defendants agents proceeded in efforts to damage Thomas
without probable cause.
"On Saturday December 12, 1981 at approximately 1900
hours while on patrol (in Lafayette Park) I observed a subject in
a sleeping bag on the sidewalk in front of the White House.
The subject was later IDed as William Thomas. ... (At
approximately 1900 hours) (t)he subject was ... advised by this
officer that he was in violation of (1) CFR 50.27 camping, (2) CFR
30.19, demonstrating without a permit, (3) unlawful entry, and to
gather up all his property, and leave the area."
(Tr. Ex.18, USPP Case Incident Report, J.W. Moore, December, 12,
The charges against Thomas were not prosecuted.
19. A reasonable person might fairly conclude that the
arresting officers were not acting on their own initiative, but to
carry out agreements made by others:
"(T)here for awhile we were instructed to arrest people
in front of the White House for unlawful entry and I think
trespassing and a couple of other charges.... I know Mr. Thomas
was at least arrested on one occasion for those charges."
(Tr. Ex.19, Testimony Officer Samuel Wolz USA v. Thomas, USDC,
82-0329(M), September 16, 1982, transcript at 88.)
20. After it became appearent that the Park Service would not
respond to his written communiques (e.g. Supra para. 15, Thomas
decided to communicate his plight through symbolic action.
"On 12-25-81 (Thomas) was observed hanging by his wrists from
a street light in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. and was
arrested by U.S. Park Police. This incident was photographed by
UPI and was the subject of an article by the Washington Post. At
the time of the arrest (Thomas) was in possession of a one page
statement protesting police harassment (copies of the article and
the statement will be forwarded to ID under a separate cover). On
12-25-81 at one-forty-five PM the subject was interviewed by
special (Secret Service) agents (censored) and (censored) at the
Park Police sub-station on Ohio Drive. The interview revealed that
the subject's purpose was to solicit the attention of the president
regarding his displeasure with certain governmental operations."
(Tr. Ex. 20, Secret Service Report, January 7, 1982.)
21. To insure that his symbolic action was not misunderstood,
or intentionally distorted Thomas distributed an explanation to
"I have been patient, peaceful, and consistant in my
belief. The Government has remained steadfast in its ignorance.
The police, in response to civil authority rather than law, have
waged a continuous campaign of harassment, from which, it is hoped,
they have learned something of their own lack of principle.
"Unfortunately the on-going police harassment has reached a
stage where it effectively, though illegally, prohibits me from
expressing myself as I had chosen, and as my principles dictate.
Therefore it seemed appropriate that I attempt a new form of
(Tr. Ex.21, Thomas' Statement, December 25, 1981.)
22. Despite the fact that Thomas' complaint was clearly
articulated and the police were in possession of his written
statement, Secret Service agents released several reports to the
press saying that the specific nature of Thomas' grievances were
not known. One report to the press falsely stated that Thomas had
been taken to St. Elizabeth's Hospital for observation. Thomas was
damaged through alienation from the public (deprivation of
(Tr. Ex. 22 (a), AP December 25, 1981; Tr. Ex. 22(b),
Washington Post/UPI December 26, 1981.)
23. "Although nuclear weapons may mean, if not the end
of mankind, at least the end of civilization as we know it ... they
are necessary in order to guard against mindless bureaucracy and
totalitarian police-state tactics which combine to stifle
individual freedom and personal excellence." Ronald Wilson Reagan,
address to joint session of British Parliment, June, 1982, SEE
Complaint, filed November 21, 1984, pg. 111.
A jury might reasonably conclude, defendants realized that Thomas,
through his actions, was proving Chief Executive Ronald Wilaon
Reagan to be either a fool, a madman, or a liar, and, for that
reason (supra para. 1 and 5), were anxious to silence or discredit
"Defendant Thomas was found guilty of the charge of
disorderly conduct, but sentencing, and fine of twenty-five
dollars, was suspended by Judge King because of conflict with
violation of Mr. Thomas' First Amendment rights."
(Tr. Ex. 23, Case Incident Report USPP Officer R.F. Perkins,
January 5, 1981.)
24. The Secret Service had no reason to question Thomas'
"Advised by the registrar's office of St. Elizabeth's
Hospital that (Thomas) was not of record with that institution."
(Tr. Ex. 24, Secret Service Report, January 7, 1982.)
25. The S.S. admits that they didn't like the signs in front
of the White House, and indicates that "from the very beginning"
they recognized that the signs called for "an arrangement" which
needed to be "worked out" by "legal people."
"From the very beginning when those signs began to be
... attended ... we started to have a concern. We met (at least as
early as spring of 1982) with individuals and legal people from
Interior to work out some kind of an arrangement... I don't
remember exactly when I first saw them out there, physically, but
it became apparent that this was going to be the wave of the
(Tr. Ex.25, Testimony of Jerry Parr, May 3, 1983, CA-83-1243, ERA
v. Watt, transcript p. 35-36.)
Case Listing --- Proposition One ---- Peace Park