The 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week vigil for peace in front of the White House has been reestablished after being temporarily dismantled Thursday morning.
A Park Police spokesman confirmed that the tent was left unoccupied around 4 a.m. Thursday, at which point officers removed the shelter and hand-painted wood signs that have become a landmark in their own right.
Concepcion Picciotto, the vigil's founder and chief caretaker, said the activist who was supposed to be manning the location overnight left.
"It's just empty," Picciotto said. "It's empty. We need everything here."
The protest, which began in 1981, has been continually occupied since its inception. Picciotto left her spot at about 10 p.m. Wednesday to get some rest, but the volunteer tasked to occupy the spot left a few hours later.
"The guy who was supposed to cover the shift just walked away, and the police took the signs," Picciotto told the Washington Post Thursday morning.
While the vigil does not technically require a permit, federal law says it must be continuously attended. In a statement, the Park Service said:
"With no one attending the site, the officer collected the materials and placed them in a U.S. Park Police storage facility for safe keeping."
"They don't like the protestors, they don't like people to tell the truth," said Picciotto.
The vigil resumed, albeit a bit smaller, later Thursday after supporters picked up the seized materials. They're pledging to rebuild it and continue their call for peace.
"It's certainly disappointing," a protester who goes only by the name Simalee said. "Within minutes, someone was out here. I think it's a bit (of) overkill."