The Community for Creative Non-Violence, an activist group that works with the city's poor, yesterday won the right to rebuild a tent village across from the White House to symbolize the plight of the homeless here and elsewhere.
The tent village, christened "Reaganville" by the CCNV, had been torn down by U.S. Park Police the day after it was erected on Thanksgiving because it violated a ban on camping in federal parks here. Six CCNV members were arrested and briefly detained.
Yesterday, the CCNV promptly reerected the village in Lafayette Square after the National Park Service granted the group a one-week authorization to do so, provided the tents are not used for shelter.
CCNV member Justin Brown said yesterday that the village was meant to serve as "a reminder that not only has Reagan banned the homeless from his public policy, he's banned them from his doorstep."
Along with the tents, the CCNV erected a symbolic graveyard consisting of a painted plywood tombstone surrounded by 45 white wooden crosses, each bearing the name and date of death of one of the 45 street people who have died in Washington in the last five years.
"With the living banished, only the dead remain to cry out and seek redress," a sign explained.
CCNV member Carol Fennelly carried the real remains of one street person in a plexiglass container. The fragmented bones are those of a "John Doe" whose body was claimed and then cremated by CCNV two years ago. They "go with us everywhere," said Fennelly.
Sandra Alley, speaking for the National Park Service, said CCNV's one-week permit may be reissued "if they meet the terms and it doesn't conflict with other First Amendment Activities."