While the passing of Concepcion Piccolo was widely reported in the mainstream press, there has been not one word there about the continuing of the White House Peace Vigil, which lives on. Just when the National Park Service and the White House thought kings and dictators would be able to visit the White House without seeing a reminder of what their policies can do, just when they thought it was “safe to go back in the water,” the vigil continues.
For decades the police and Park Service tried again and again to shut down the vigil. Bad arrests, even the beatings of drummers keeping George HW Bush awake during the first Iraq War could not shut it down. Even the passing of Concepcion, who had bottomlined the vigil for so long now cannot stop it. Only the removal or nuclear weapons from US arsenals can do that.
On Monday, Jan 25, Piccolo Concepcion died, reported at an assisted living facility, known for her 35 year long vigil against nuclear weapons at the White House. This vigil began all the way back in 1981, during the darkest days of Ronald Reagan and two years before the “Able Archer” nuclear forces wargame nearly led to nuclear war by accident. Many confrontations took place in the early years, and most of the arcane regulations unique to what was known as Peace Park were the government’s response. The vigil began with signs leaned on the White House fence, leading to the “no protest zone” used so often for civil disobedience to this day. It then crossed the street and huge antinuclear signs that doubled as small cabins were erected. They were cut down with chainsaws, leading to the current “structures” regulations concerning signs, etc. For all the brutality and crazy laws that went into effect, for all the bad arrests later overturned in court, the government never did manage to shut down the vigil.
Even though Concepcion is gone, the vigil lives on.