The man who has protested at White House for 37 years - Daily Nation

Long-time White House protester has passion for peace

Wednesday March 14 2018

Philipos Melaku-Bello.

Philipos Melaku-Bello sits in the opening of the vigil's white plastic tent on Pennsylavania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 10, 2018. PHOTO | OLIVIER DOULIERY | AFP 

By AFP
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WASHINGTON

Ronald Reagan was America's president when Philipos Melaku-Bello first began protesting in front of the White House.

Thirty-seven years and five presidents later, Melaku-Bello is still there, quietly delivering his message from a tarpaulin-covered shelter plastered with signs advocating for peace, against the nuclear industry, and in support of human rights.

FREEDOMS

He says the site is a living demonstration of America's right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by a Constitution which the activist says is being tested under Donald Trump, a president he describes as "unlike any other."

"Our federal judges, not only the Supreme Court, have tried to keep Donald Trump in check but I tell you, he has them working very hard," Melaku-Bello says, referring to the numerous court challenges faced by Trump — on everything from immigration to birth control to potential conflicts of interest.

Opposite the front lawn of the president's home, Melaku-Bello greets passers-by with a gentle manner.

"How do you do, sir?" he asks. "Peace be with you."

Philipos Melaku-Bello.

Philipos Melaku-Bello sits in the opening of the vigil's white plastic tent on Pennsylavania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 10, 2018. Ronald Reagan was president when Melaku-Bello first began protesting in front of the White House. PHOTO | OLIVIER DOULIERY | AFP

DONATIONS

Hour after hour, local residents and tourists stop to chat or to snap photographs of the orderly protest site where he sits behind a box of pamphlets about uranium and nuclear weapons, drone warfare, and the Israeli-Palestinian c