UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Plaintiff, pro se,
v. C.A. No.________________
The United States, et. al.
Declaration of Ellen Thomas
Re November 4, 1996
On November 4, 1996, I was sitting at my "Trust God and Disarm
Everywhere" sign in Lafayette Park most of the day, reading, talking with
tourists, collecting signatures on our petition and handing out fliers. I have
been conducting a vigil for nuclear
disarmament in Lafayette Park since 1984.
About 3:00 p.m. I noticed my husband, William Thomas, talking to a film crew
(a man with a video camera on his shoulder, a woman in a London Fog coat holding
a microphone) while he attended the latest set of signs he has helped Concepcion
Picciotto maintain since 1981.
Everything being normal, I went back to reading my book.
A few minutes later my husband walked up to me and said, "Ellen, these
cops are getting totally carried away; just now this guy told a film crew they
couldn't use their camera to interview me. They weren't even using a tripod!"
(Customarily, police are observed telling film crews they can't use a tripod in
Lafayette Park because of the "structure" regulation; often they tell
the same crews they can set up their tripods in the middle of Pennsylvania
Avenue instead, which disproves the theory that tripods represent a threat to the White House.)
"So I told those people 'Don't pay any attention to him, he doesn't
know what he's talking about,' when he told them they couldn't use their camera
in the park," Thomas said. "And we went ahead with the interview,
but when I sat back down at Connie's sign the officer came back and told me, 'If
I catch you doing ANYTHING, I'm gonna take you in.' I just ignored him. So
then he told me to leave the park!"
"Why?" I asked, astounded, as I hadn't heard or seen Thomas do
anything except sit quietly at the signs or stand immediately behind the signs
to be interviewed by the tv crew. I had seen other film crews all day
interviewing people inside the park. As it was election eve, journalists were
busy taking their last in-the-street polls. At no time did I notice those
others being accosted by the police.
I thought a moment. I understood why Thomas had said "he doesn't know
what he's talking about," because the officer apparently hadn't heard about
the resolution in our favor when Park Police officer Berkowitz did something
similar to Concepcion a few years ago. Yet court cases are so time-consuming,
and we have so much to do and so little time to do it. (See attached flier.) "Do
we really have time for this?" I asked.
"No," Thomas agreed, and got on his bike to leave.
He rode away, then came back around to speak briefly with Frank Wall. "I
forgot to tell you..." I heard him say as he stopped by Frank, who was
standing a few feet away from me.
The officer rushed up to Thomas and said, with hand on right hip (for gun?
club? walkie talkie? ah, handcuffs) "I told you to leave!"
When Thomas tried to finish his sentence with Frank, the young officer
grabbed Thomas' left hand, pulled it behind his back, and handcuffed him.
Meanwhile about a dozen park police and secret service officers circled around.
I pulled the bicycle out from under Thomas when I saw what was happening.
There were a number of tourists at Concepcion's signs (as well as
Concepcion, by this time) who were astounded by what they were seeing. One
well-dressed woman with a slight accent kept asking the police, "What are
you doing? Why are you doing this? This man didn't do anything wrong!"
They were afraid to give statements, however. I pondered what a poor message
this egotistical officer was giving the world of the United States.
Thomas walked quietly with the officer to the vehicle to be transported to
I paid $25 bond for his release. The officers, who had said over the phone
they would release him on his own recognizance with I.D., refused to accept the
I.D. I brought, and said he'd be taken to the Cell Block overnight if I didn't
I believe this incident reflects a cynicism and poor training which are not
what we should expect from our public servants.
On November 4, 1996, I declare this to be true to the best of my ability,
under penalty of perjury.
(Acquittal of W. Thomas on April 2, 1997, before Commissioner Trainer)
[On April 2, 1997, Commissioner Trainer acquitted Thomas after testimony
only from the police officer. Trainer, who gave a lecture about needing and
obeying the police, was not interested in hearing from Thomas (or any of the
defense witnesses --
Concepcion, Frank, and myself). Thomas says he did manage to slip into the
record that the officer had been "lying through his teeth," in his
testimony. I had to sit in the hall with Connie and Frank. Fortunately, Ann
Tucker, Joe Brown, and several others did witness the trial.
Back to the park now.
4/2/97, 5:15 p.m.]
1424 12th Street NW
Washington DC 20005