Concepcion Picciotto, who died last week, had long been known as the public face of the peace vigil across from the White House. But she wasn’t alone in supporting the vigil. While Connie was there during the days, Philipos has been maintaining the vigil there during the nights for decades. Until more volunteers are found, Philopos is now also there during the days. When I spoke with him yesterday afternoon, he had been there for 58 hours, and was still talking graciously to me and the other interested bystanders.
It has always been a challenge to maintain the vigil, since park rules forbid any sleeping there or any items that relate to sleeping, but Philipos and the other volunteers are determined to keep the vigil going indefinitely. A local tour guide was talking to Philopos while I was there, explaining how she and the other professional D.C. tour guides always point out the vigil on their tours as an important example of the freedoms of Americans to protest, and that it was especially informative for student tour groups.
The vigil was created by William Thomas in 1981, and joined a few months later by Connie. William Thomas died in 2009. It is believed to be the longest-running peace vigil in the U.S.
If you are interested in helping, there are two needs:
- Volunteers to help staff the vigil. Any hours help, but a full shift would be even more welcome. To volunteer, either stop by the vigil and speak to Philipos or whoever else is there, or text Philipos (no phone calls) at 571 (dash) 235 (dash) 3817.
- Money: Obviously all volunteer causes could use donations. The big need now is for money for the final expenses for Connie. Philipos and the other volunteers are meeting today to decide how to handle donations and which organization to send them to – we’ll update this once more information is available, or stop by at the vigil starting tomorrow to ask him. Time is short, because her body is in the DC morgue and the rules require that plans be finalized by Thursday.
Here are more photos of Connie from DC Focused photographers: