“Concepcion “Connie” Picciotto, who held a peace vigil in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House starting in 1981, died on January 25″

Concepcion Picciotto, 1989 photo by Lorie Shaull
Photo by Lorie Shaull

Lorie writes:

“Concepcion “Connie” Picciotto, who held a peace vigil in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House starting in 1981, died on January 25. At the time that she began her demonstration, there were other activists camped out in Lafayette Park but slowly, through the 80s they left the park mainly due to the National Park Service’s more restrictive regulations on protesters and demonstrations. Connie’s anti-nuclear vigil has been reported as the longest-running act of political protest in U.S. history.”

Live by the bomb die by the bomb photo by Victoria Pickering
Photo by Victoria Pickering

12 Comment

  • Rest in peace, ma’am. You were on station for as long as I remember.

  • The Washington Post suggests she started the sit-in in part because she was bonkers. “She believed she was the target of a web of conspiracies — involving doctors, lawyers and the government — and hoped that elected officials could help get her daughter back.”

    So the longest-running act of political protest in U.S. history was founded on delusions and persecution fantasies.

    • The truth is still out there.

    • She did seem to suffer from some form of mental illness (wore tinfoil hats under her wig to protect herself from mind control), but that shouldn’t take away from her activism.

      • May she rest in peace.

        What we may interpret as conviction and standing up for her beliefs may have been borne of misfiring neurons and chemical imbalances. And for all her activism, she didn’t seem to accomplish much at all.

        • Agreed, though inadvertently she may provided effective social commentary on our failure to provide mental health services in this country.

      • No doubt she was nuts. But she wouldn’t be the first whack job to come to Washington. Most of them go to the Hill.

    • “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
      ― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

  • justinbc

    I used to work right across from her protest / vigil. I talked with her probably dozens of times. There’s no doubt she was mentally ill, maybe even from the time her protest began (she started in NYC even before coming to DC). I wish however that I, and others, had the conviction to follow through on our beliefs in the way that she did. Results are not always the gauge by which a protest should be measured, sometimes effort deserves merit on its own. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone so committed to a cause, and through nonviolent means throughout its entirety. Some folks will diminish her by her use of Nazis and the like as disrespectful to what Jews went through during the Holocaust, I can’t disagree with that, but again, she was quite likely seriously mentally ill. The fact that someone in that mental state could withstand more than three decades of everything DC has to throw at her is all the more impressive in my mind.
    The story I heard about her origin here was that she was originally issued a writ to protest, but before her there were no expiration dates on such paperwork because people generally did their business and moved on. They had to institute them because of her. Not sure if that’s true, but if it is this will provide a photograph of the White House entrance that hasn’t been possible in over 30 years, that alone is momentous and deserves recognition. I hope that I can carry a bit of Concepion’s spirit in me as I go forward in life, haters, mockers, and doubters be damned.

    • I’m not always a fan of your posts Justin, but I completely agree with you on this one 🙂

    • Well said & I appreciate the sentiment of remembering to carry a bit of Concepcion’s spirit along with me in this life. I took the first photograph posted here back in 1989 can remember, even then, being impressed with the amount of persistence she showed. Over the years I’ve walked by her demonstration and been both bewildered and impressed that she has stayed put but I mostly took it for granted that she would be there day in and day out–at times seemingly ageless. When I heard about her death I went digging for my photo to share with others. While she clearly struggled, she also made a contribution by her mere presence across from the White House for so many years. It leaves me sad when I read comments here and in other postings about her that are disrespectful of her life. It was, after all, one person’s life and one person’s struggles & journey; no more & no less than any of our own struggles and journeys in life.

  • But now who’s going to tell me that Israel are the REAL Nazis???

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