Activist Dies After Longest Protest in US History

White House protester maintained vigil for 35 years
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2016 3:00 AM CST
Updated Jan 27, 2016 6:47 AM CST
Activist Dies After Longest Protest in US History
In this Sept. 12, 2013, photo, Concepcion Picciotto sits on a park bench in Lafayette Square.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Concepcion Picciotto's fellow activists hope that after 35 years protesting outside the White House, she has finally found peace. Picciotto began her anti-nuclear-proliferation vigil on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1981, and it's believed to be the longest-running protest in American history, reports NPR. All these years, Picciotto has either staffed the 24-hour vigil herself or made sure others did in her place. Picciotto, who moved to the US from Spain in 1960, died on Monday at a facility for homeless women within walking distance of her protest site. Recently, she'd been too frail to attend for more than a few hours a day, the Washington Post reports. She was around 80 years old.

Picciotto, who displayed hand-lettered signs with messages like "Live by the bomb, die by the bomb," protested alongside two fellow activists in the Proposition One group for many years. Protester Ellen Thomas tells the Post that while there were concerns about Picciotto's mental health—she believed she was the target of government conspiracies—her dedication to the cause was never in doubt. In 2013, when ABC News' Jonathan Karl asked her why she had kept up the vigil for so many years, she said, "Because nobody will do it. Nobody will stand up." (That same year, Picciotto's vigil was dismantled by US Park Police, but quickly put back by protesters.)

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