MARY HUDDLE and PHILIP JOSEPH, et. al., ) ) versus ) CA 88-3130-JHG ) Judge Joyce Hens Green RONALD WILSON REAGAN, et. al., ) defendants ) ________________________________________)
I, William Thomas, plaintiff, pro se in the above entitled action hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the following is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge:
1. On October 24, 1989, I was in Lafayette Park where I was performing religious service by holding a vigil.
2. Earlier that afternoon a man had given me a candle which he said he had made. The candle was made from "mullen," a fern-like vegetation, with a stem approximately three feet in length. At the end of the stem was a dried pod, approximately twelve inches in length, which was covered with paraffin.
3. At approximately 7:00 PM, I lit the candle and sat at my signs holding the stem of the candle in my hand.
4. At that time I was particularly disappointed because Dr. Ralph Abernathy had recently written and been promoting -- largely for monetary concerns, I had some reason to suspect -- a book entitled "The Walls Came Tumbling Down." Whether Dr. Abernathy's book has more or fewer redeeming social values than ordinary pornography did not concern me, but, for myself, I thought it appro-priate to remember the positive contributions which Dr. King had made to the progress of our race, and to pray his old friends would be inspired to more meaningful writing.
5. A short time later a man came by and asked me why I was burning the candle. I responded that it was in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King.
6. I was in conversation with that man and several other persons until approxim-ately 7:30 when Park Police Officer Lindsey, riding a motorcycle, approached me on the sidewalk. Officer Lindsey said she thought that the candle I was holding was illegal, and that she had radioed for her supervisor to check. Officer Lindsey's presence riveted attention on herself and her own actions, which had the effect of disrupting the conversation in which I had been engaged.
7. Shortly, Sergeants Manzo and Paccione arrived on the scene. Sergeant Manzo agreed that my candle was "an open flame" and, therefore, "illegal."
8. I pointed out that courts had recognized the lighting of candles as a symbolic act, and therefore my candle should be considered "legal."
9. Nonetheless, Sgt. Manzo confiscated my candle. She said that she would check with her supervisors to see whether it was "illegal." When I requested a receipt for the candle from Officer Lindsey, she said that she would give me the "case number," and later handed me a small piece of paper with the numbers 47961 written on it. The candle has since been returned.
10. On or about October 25, 1989, at approximately 4:00, Sgt. Paccione arrived in Lafayette Park. He told me that he had been to the DOI Solicitor's Office to determine whether my candle was legal. He said he had not been able to speak with defendant Robbins, an assistant solicitor, because he was busy, but that he had spoken with Mr. Myers, Mr. Robbins' assistant. Sgt. Paccione told me that he hadn't gotten a final determination, but that Mr. Myers seemed to be "leaning toward" an opinion that the candle would be legal. Sgt. Paccione asked me not to light the candle until he could get a firm opinion. He also said he would let me know the next day.
11. Past experience gave me reason to believe that if I continued to burn my candle the combined might of the Park Police would be brought to bear to forcefully extinguish my light, and/or cause my imprisonment.
12. Due to that past experience and the immediate presence of the heavily armed, not notably amicable officers, I was put in fear of bodily harm and/or imprisonment. Consequently I was intimidated from lighting another candle.
13. Still on October 25, l989, at approximately 4:30 PM, I noticed that Sgt. Paccione and another officer were hanging around the vicinity of Concepcion Picciotto's demonstration. I went to that area to see what was going on.
14. When I arrived at her signs she was quite upset and told me that the policemen had told her to take down her flags.
15. I asked Sgt. Paccione whether what Concepcion said was true. He answered in the affirmative. I asked "Why?" Sgt. Paccione indicated that he had inquired at the Solicitor's Office and obtained the opinion that the flags violated the regulations.
16. I asked Sgt. Paccione whether he could identify any substantial interest he had in removing the flags.
17. He repeated that they were in violation of a regulation.
18. I remarked that the flags had been in the same location for years, and inquired as to what had prompted the sudden police interest in them.
19. Sgt. Paccione said that one of his men had "expressed
some concern about them," and, as a result, Sgt. Paccione had con-tacted the Solicitor's Office.
20. I asked what, exactly, the officer's concern had been.
21. Sgt. Paccione said that he couldn't speak for the officer, and wasn't sure just what the officer's concern had been.
22. I asked whether Sgt. Paccione could identify any potential injury that might be caused to any person or property as a result of the flags.
23. Sgt. Paccione replied that he couldn't discuss his political opinions with me.
24. I told him that I wasn't interested in discussing his political opinions, but only wanted to know whether he had any reason to believe that the flags were a potential threat to anything.
25. He repeated that he couldn't discuss his opinions.
26. I again explained that I was interested only in knowing whether he had any facts which would make him think that there was some substantial interest to be served by removing the flags. I said that I thought it was illegal for him to remove the flags unless there was some valid reason to do so.
27. Officer Mitzell then told me if I thought that the removal was illegal I should challenge them with a court action.
28. I told him that I had enough things to do, and wasn't at all anxious to file any more papers than were absolutely necessary.
29. Officer Mitzell said, "That is the way that you get laws changed."
30. At that point Sgt. Paccione told Concepcion that she could either take the flags down, or they would take the flags down, and give her a CFR violation notice.
31. At her request I took Concepcion's flags down.
32. I have received no further word as to the "official opinion" in respect to the legality of my candle.
33. During the week of September 2 thru 7, 1989, in the early morning hours, Park Police officials were frequently in Lafayette Park in greater number than there was any legitimate need for, and behaving in an unfriendly manner.
34. On or about September 2, 1989, at approxi-mately 3:00 AM, when approxim-ately eight United States Park Police officials with a video camera rousted individuals in the immediate vicinity of plaintiffs' signs.
35. On or about September 3, 1989, at approximately 12:45 - 1:00 AM, six to seven Park Police officials, accompanied by video crew, rousted individuals in the immediate vicinity of plaintiffs' signs; on or about September 3, 1989, at approximate-ly 3:15 - 3:30 AM, six to seven Park Police officials rousted individuals in the immediate vicinity of plaintiffs' signs.
36. On or about September 4, 1989, at approximately 4:15 AM, approximately four Park Police officials rousted individuals in the immediate vicinity of plaintiffs' signs. On or about September 4, 1989, at approxi-mately 0:15 AM, approximately five Park Police officials with video camera and a dog rousted individuals in the immediate vicinity of plaintiffs' signs.
37. On or about September 5, 1989, at approxi-mately 3:00 AM, Officer Berkowitz rousted Thomas in the vicinity of his signs.
38. On or about September 7, 1989, at approximately 5:30 AM, Lt. Murphy rousted Thomas in the vicinity of his signs
40. These police forays were chilling, intimidating and without redeeming social qualities which I was able to perceive.
Under penalty of perjury
1440 N Street, N.W. Apt. 410
Washington, D.C. 20038