Friday, August 15, 2008

Pennsylvania Avenue's other famous couple

Pennsylvania Avenue's other famous couple

Last Updated: Friday, August 15, 2008 | 3:51 PM ET

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Concepcion Picciotto in front of her alternative White House on the edge of Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the real one.Concepcion Picciotto in front of her alternative White House on the edge of Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the real one. (Andrea Lee/CBC) It is 12:30 on a Thursday afternoon and it is hot, one of those searing, humid days that remind Washingtonians they live in the U.S. South.
In front of the White House, tourists are undeterred. They come in groups large and small, stopping to take pictures of the president's home or to peer through the wrought iron bars that keep them from it.
Across the street, on the edge of Lafayette Park, Concepcion Picciotto is protesting loudly.
"That man is crazy!" she cries, in a high-pitched, heavily-accented voice, pointing to the White House. "Destroy the people! Destroy the nation! No future for the children!"
Picciotto is by no means a threatening protester. She is about five feet tall. Her skin is darkly tanned and heavily creased. She is missing teeth. She wears a dark brown wig over a cap, covered by a purple and beige scarf.
On this day, she is wearing a peach-coloured blouse, white cotton pajama-style pants with pale yellow flowers, and brown sandals. She also wears a large, forest green fanny pack and has a set of keys around her neck.
Don't underestimate her, though. Picciotto is one of Washington's best-known protesters. She and a partner, William Thomas, have lived in a makeshift tent across the street from the White House since 1981.
They set up their "White House 24 Hours a Day Antinuclear Peace Vigil" 27 years ago and haven't left. In a perverse kind of way, they have become Pennsylvania Avenue's other famous couple

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