Norton Says White House Peace Vigil Activist’s Legacy Should Inspire D.C.’s Fight for Statehood

Jan 26, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said she was deeply saddened at the passing of Concepcion Picciotto, who maintained a peace vigil outside the White House for more than 30 years.  Norton, herself a veteran of civil rights activism, had seen Picciotto as the living symbol for staying with a principled cause, such as nuclear non-proliferation and peace, until it is achieved, even when others grow tired.

“At a time when people ask me whether I think we will ever achieve statehood, I think of extraordinary activists like Picciotto, who recognized that there is no progress without activism,” Norton said.  “In fact, during Picciotto’s more than 30 years of vigilance for nuclear proliferation and peace, many of her goals were achieved.  For example, the Iran agreement, which takes that country out of the nuclear orbit, shows why such activism is most worthy.  Moreover, during her three decades of protests, we have seen a measured reduction in the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  With Picciotto’s activism multiplied many times over, we can even achieve our own goal to make the District of Columbia the 51st state.”

Last year, Norton introduced her nuclear disarmament bill to require the U.S. to negotiate an international agreement to disable and dismantle its nuclear weapons by 2020 and to redirect the funds to human and infrastructure needs, such as housing, health care, Social Security and the environment.

In 2013, Norton’s office called the U.S. Park Police after learning that Picciotto’s peace vigil was removed from its location in front of the White House overnight. Following the call from Norton’s office, the Park Police agreed to the return of the vigil, and Picciotto was informed where it had been taken and how to get access to get it, and supporters took her to retrieve her belongings. The vigil was removed under Park Service rules when left unattended by an activist who was to remain with the vigil for Picciotto.