Spanish Woman Who Held Peace Protest Outside The White House For 35 Years Has Died

Concepción Picciotto, who was born in Galicia, Spain and is believed to have staged the longest protest in United States history, has died at the age of 70 years old.

More commonly known as Connie or Conchita, the Spanish woman died in a women’s homeless shelter in Washington, D.C. on January 25. She was believed to have been 70 years of age.

It was back in 1981 that Picciotto joined an anti-nuclear proliferation demonstration outside the gates of the White House, and she became a mainstay, often seen and photographed by visitors to Washington, D.C.

She set up a tent on Lafayette Square directly opposite the White House for a period of 35 years.

White House
[Image via Wikimedia Commons by AgnosticPreachersKid/CC BY-SA 3.0]

Reportedly, Picciotto made a distinctive sight, often dressed in a helmet and headscarf and standing barely five feet in height. She apparently claimed that the helmet she wore kept out radio waves that were sent at night by the CIA, who she said were attempting to turn her brain to mush.

She would hand out flyers to the general public calling for world peace and for many years protested alongside William Thomas, a peace activist who passed away in 2009.

Anti-war protest at the White House
[Image William Thomas via Wikimedia Commons by eschen/CC BY-SA 2.0]

The pair were joined in 1984 by Ellen Benjamin, who ended up married to Thomas, an action that drew hostility from Picciotto. She believed the woman was just after Thomas’ money.

Despite the tensions, however, the trio protested together for 25 years. When Thomas died, she vowed to continue her protest outside the White House in his honor.

White House protest
[Image Ellen Thomas via Wikimedia Commons by peteindc/FAL]

Picciotto reportedly rarely left her post outside her tent, which was covered with anti-war posters and only went to the bathroom twice a day to wash and relieve herself. Picciotto protested less after she was knocked over by a car in 2012, but her tent remained in place outside the White House.

As to the cause of her death, according to the Washington Post, they had been told by the N Street Village, which operates the shelter where she passed away, that the Spanish woman had suffered a fall, but it is not clear if this led to her demise.

White House protest
[Image with Ammar Aziz via Wikimedia Commons by Commiegirl/CC BY-S.A. 3.0]

Picciotto is believed to have been born in Vigo, Galicia back in 1945, and little is known of her earlier years, but she is known to have emigrated to New York City at the age of 18.

When she first moved to New York City, Picciotto worked as a receptionist at the Spanish Embassy. She married an Italian man, and they had a daughter, but she lost custody of her child after a legal battle following her divorce from the man.

It was at that stage she decided to start protesting outside the White House, initially as a mission to win back her own child, but eventually, her protest turned to calling for safety for all the children of the world from the endless wars.

Back in 2013, she told the Washington Post that with her presence outside the White House, she hoped to remind others to take action where they could, however small, in an attempt to stop the violence, particularly against children, and to end wars once and for all.

As reported in the Local, back in 2004, Picciotto spoke to a reporter from the Spanish language newspaper, La Voz de Galicia and she said that first and foremost she is Spanish and one hundred percent Galician.

The reporter ended the interview by asking Picciotto if she would like to die at her post outside the White House, or would she one day like to return to Galicia. She responded that due to her moral principles she had to stay where she was.

“It would be very selfish. God has put me here for a reason.”

“But, even if it were just my bones, I would like to return there, to Galicia. I don’t want to be buried here.”

It was not reported where Concepción Picciotto would finally be laid to rest.

[Photo via Wikimedia Commons by George Kauper/CC BY-SA 3.0]