William Thomas Dies After 27 Years in Front of the White House
William Thomas (known to most as Thomas) passed away this morning. Thomas spent the last 27 years in front of the White House, in Lafeyette Park, protesting the inhumane policies of the US, especially the US nuclear policies exemplified by the US dropping nuclear bombs on the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Rain or shine, this guy was downtown across from the White House for the past three decades. Anyone who ever strolled through Lafayette Park saw him and glanced at his signs. RIP, Thomas! May your struggle to end nuclear weapons and US militarism some day come to fruition!
United States of America v. William Thomas, Appellant United States of America v. Ellen Thomas, Appellant United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit. - 864 F.2d 188 Argued Nov. 8, 1988 Decided Dec. 30, 1988
Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Criminal Action Nos. 87-00231-01 and 02) ...
Like the now-legendary "sleeping in the park" case, Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S. 288, 104 S.Ct. 3065, 82 L.Ed.2d 221 (1984), the case before us involves individuals who are seeking by their continuing presence in the park to convey and communicate their sincerely held views about what they perceive to be the most elemental social ills. Two individuals, husband and wife, stand convicted for violation of the applicable Park Service regulations which forbid "camping" in areas including Lafayette Park ...
Park Police Officer Richard DeRiso testified that at approximately 6:00 a.m. on March 22, he observed the Thomases lying in sleeping bags and on blankets, surrounded by clothes. The officer saw no activity and heard sounds that to him resembled snoring. He woke the Thomases, told them that they were violating the camping regulation, and cited them for the violation ...
William Thomas states that his "main, practical purpose is a symbolic purpose to my being , but practically my purpose is that I can be available at all times for clarification of actual reality." (Tr. 252). William Thomas testified that he spent most of his time from March 21 to 26 in the Park, leaving to go to a court appearance and twice to go to the nearby apartment. (Tr. 238). Although both use the apartment for tasks such as cooking, cleaning clothes, using the telephone, and writing, neither testified to sleeping (except inadvertently) or spending significant amounts of time there. William Thomas claimed that "the object of my life is to live without accommodations, and to me <the apartment> is a compromise" ...
Once we conclude, as we have, that the regulation provided fair notice to the Thomases and sufficiently delimited the discretion conferred upon enforcement officers, we are left, then, only with the puzzle of why the Thomases sought to discern the scope of the regulation yet repeatedly ran afoul of it. Without that puzzle, this case would have presented an easier question, and a shorter opinion. The record suggests that the Thomases have always believed that they have not over the years engaged in camping, in some Platonic or Eagle Scouts sense, and that they have in accord with their deeply held religious beliefs given up all accommodations. Therefore, as counsel put it at oral argument, the Thomases view themselves as having, in effect, no living accommodations. Nonetheless, the regulation and its enforcement, as applied to the Thomases, fairly and clearly told them the contrary; it therefore readily passes constitutional muster in its application to them. The Thomases persisted in effectuating their belief, which at day's end amounts to disagreement with the clear import of the regulation as indicated by its language, its enforcement, its interpretation by the district court, and now our reading. It may be unfortunate that the Thomases' deeply felt convictions have led them to persistent behavior running afoul of the clear import of the regulation. That disagreement, in the face of various warnings, perhaps reflects courage, conscience, or tragedy. It manifestly does not reflect, in the regulation as it has been applied, vagueness of constitutional dimension ...
28. We talk about the unendurably "long last 8 years" of our lives...
Edited on Mon Jan-26-09 12:02 AM by chill_wind
here at DU a lot (and they WERE)--- and then I try to fathom 27 years of his kind of daily consciousness, regardless of the elements, his repeated jailings and public harrassment by every freeper passerby--
He transcends all that I could imagine about the meaning of lifelong political activism. I hope there is one day another whole park in DC in his very name. Namaste', William.
34. All well and good, but you have a Henry Wallace icon/avatar (whatever it's called) --
people with Henry Wallace icon/avatars more than 60 years after he ran for President, I kind of have to assume are old un-reconstructed communists. And by extension, I kind of feel it would not be a bad bet to assume that this William Thomas was one of your comrades too. :shrug:
Your post made me look him up, and he seems to have been a very interesting guy -- farmer, Vice President of the US, Sec of Ag, Sec of Commerce, Episcopalian (most Communists are officially atheist), invited to attend JFK's inauguration. In 1950 he broke with the Progressives and became anti-Communist because of Stalin.
Thanks for prompting me to learn more about this man.
39. Cause this capitalism shit is working out sooo well right?
I'm at a loss for words at your assumptions about the original poster. I'll just say your labeling him/her and your use of the word "comrade" in an attempt to put him/her down in some way is very disappointing from a DU member. And you're title - "All well and good" - well i'm here to tell you it is NOT ALL WELL AND GOOD that Mr Thomas sat in front of the white house for 27 years based on strong principles and was barely even known or acknowledged. Hopefully you will think about what I've said and not even bother replying to me. :mad: :grr:
If Wallace had made it to the White House, Mr. Thomas may never have had to spend the rest of life in vigil outside it decades later.
The world could have been a much different place if FDR had kept Henry Wallace on as VP in '44, or had the Progressive Party won in '48. No Cold War. No military-industrial complex. End to racial segregation. National health care. Instead we are living in this alternate reality of death, destruction, and poverty. The struggle continues.
70. How about this (for all the responders to my post) -- Henry Wallace was the Ralph Nader of '48.
He created a third party run in the Truman/Dewey contest that pulled off votes from the left. Yes, Truman won, but it was a close-run thing. In fact, the conventional wisdom at the time was that Dewey would win (remember the "Dewey Defeats Truman" headlines?)
Because of his anti-Democratic Party pre-Naderite splittist recklessness, Henry Wallace is perhaps not an appropriate icon on DU.
My sis lives in San Fran too. I really need to make it out there one day to see her. And yeah, I think being republican requires a certain level of greed, hatred, and love of power that not only will I never understand, but am sickened by. RIP Thomas indeed. You've earned it big time. A true hero in my eyes.
...spoke to that fellow many times over the last 20 years. The first time was to (as a stupid 22 year old) mock him and his little protest. He humored me and we talked for awhile. I grew up a little bit that morning. I stopped working down on there a few years back and have not seen him since.
Definitely a little 'out there' - but nice and coherent. He was never overly weird or rude.
Lots of times, when coming back from Federal Triangle or the Capitol, I'd walk instead of taking the Metro or cabbing it, and when I was walking I'd always take the shortcut through Lafayette Park and see how Thomas was doing. I never said very much to him and he never had much to say to me, but I always admired his tenacity.
I never knew he was an institution...When I was a college senior, me and my then-girlfriend met him on a cold, dreary day during Christmas break in 1998...We were just taking a sightseeing trip to D.C. and we had a chat with him...I was not as politically astute back then, and I think I kind of dismissed him as a homeless nutbar -- But even then we really admired his dedication.
I read a lot of people here saying he was a little out there. This proves that "sane" doesn't always mean in your right mind. Is that what it takes to be really on the right path? What is "out there"? If it is what Thomas was then I would like to think I am on that path too. Here's to you Thomas!
71. Dude protested peacefully through TWENTY years of Republican presidents
He was committed to his cause. That gets you attacked no matter what. Half the time I even MENTION my faith on here people will attack for no reason, can't imagine actually DOING what he did every day across from the White House no less! Society wants to cast ill will towards those they're not participating with when it regards a cause, it sure seems that way. I mean, just look at the ridiculous slam someone made about the OP's avatar being of a Communist nature, and therefore disregarding the entire story about this man who fought the good fight for peace? Shameful!
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