Concepcion “Connie” Picciotto’s Legacy


Maya Lapp, Senior Reporter

“Live by the Bomb, Die by the Bomb.” That was one of many slogans printed on Concepcion “Connie” Picciotto’s protest signs as she stood vigil outside the White House for 30 years. Around 80 years old, Picciotto died 25 January 2016 in a housing facility not long after vacating her place outside the capitol building for the final time. Picciotto’s protest, widely considered the longest-running act of political protest in U.S. history, was focused primarily against nuclear weapons, although she condemned war of all kinds.

Demonstrators are banned from sleeping on White House property or leaving protest sites unattended. Generally, Picciotto would have volunteers man her protest tent while taking breaks; however, several times she left the site unattended and the police confiscated her signs and tent. Nonetheless, each time she retrieved her belongings and resumed her demonstration. Through ice and snow, through blazing heat, this woman did not relent.

Picciotto gained wider fame when she appeared in the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore. In it she was highly critical of President George W. Bush’s war on terror.

Picciotto’s protest lasted through five different presidencies. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, a huge supporter of Picciotto, noted, “Not a single president ever walked across the street from the White House to meet her or to recognize her quest for peace and justice.”

An eccentric woman, often even considered insane, Picciotto wore a helmet at all times, believing the government was directing electromagnetic waves at her head. However, no matter her mental state, Picciotto will long be remembered as the iconic symbol of free speech and her protest against the horrors of violence will be remembered for many generations to come.