Concepcion Picciotto, known to many as Connie, who spent 32 years staging a peaceful protest in front of the White House, died on Monday.
Picciotto, a Spanish immigrant who has inhabited her anti-nuclear-proliferation vigil tent since 1981, has become an institution of sorts. Her peace vigil is widely believed to be the longest-running act of political protest in U.S. history. Her aim, all this time, was to “stop the world from being destroyed.”
Following her passing, many Washington insiders spoke up about the woman they often saw, but knew little about. Former President George W. Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino tweeted “RIP.”
Picciotto immigrated to New York City in 1960 and in 1969, married an Italian man she met there. The two adopted a daughter.
In 1979, Picciotto came to the White House after she said she believed her husband was conspiring against her.
In 1981, she joined William Thomas, who had founded the peace vigil across the street from the White House. She would never see her adopted daughter again. According to a Washington Post profile of her in 2013, she said that because she could not help her own child, she wanted to make sure that she could help other children.
The movement called Proposition One, which they hoped to launch from their tent outside of the White House, finally came to some fruition in 1993 when a nuclear disarmament petition they circulated resulted in the nuclear disarmament and conversion act, which was passed as an initiative by District of Columbia voters, but has never reached the U.S. House floor for a vote.
Picciotto and Thomas’ vigil also made a cameo in Michael Moore’s 2004 documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” and in another documentary entitled “The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Thomas died in 2009, but Picciotto kept the vigil alive. After decades spent outside of the White House, Picciotto died at the age of 80 in a homeless shelter in Washington, DC.