The Abolitionist Action Committee

AAC is an ad-hoc group of individuals committed to highly visible and effective public
education for alternatives to the death penalty through nonviolent direct action.


Annual Fast & Vigil

The 11th Annual Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty at the U.S. Supreme Court
June 29th thru July 2nd, 2004

Click Here for press coverage and photos from the 2002 Fast & Vigil


(further details below)

WHO: Anyone who is against the DP -- seasoned abolitionists and those new to the movement alike. Come, learn some new tricks, make an impact and meet others who work for the cause....  Abolition work made fun!

WHAT: A four day vigil maintaining a presence at SCOTUS, The Supreme Court Of The United States. Some of the participants fast during this time, but fasting is not required. To be clear, we do not engage in civil disobedience during the Fast & Vigil.
Click Here to understand the level of communication required with the Supreme Court Police.

WHERE:  In front of SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) on Capital Hill in Washington, DC

WHEN:  June 29 to July 2 - to attend the full event, arrive on June 28, depart on July 3, 2004

WHY:  The purpose of this event is to maintain a presence at SCOTUS between the dates of the anniversaries of when the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional in practice in 1972, and when new laws were upheld in 1976. Much of the time is spent talking to individuals and educating people about the death penalty.  Several larger events are held at key times during the event to highlight specific concerns.

COST:  Minimal - mainly transportation to DC and personal expenses.

-Send a donation to the AAC to help with the cost of this event!
-Sponsor a participant
-Publicize this event in your organization's newsletter

These fliers promote the two main events at this year's Fast & Vigil.
Click here here to view and download all the fliers available for this year's event.


June 29 is the anniversary of the 1972 Furman v. Georgia decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court found the death penalty to be applied in an arbitrary and capricious manner. At that time, more then 600 condemned inmates had their death sentences reduced to terms of life imprisonment, and all states were forced to rewrite their death penalty laws. July 2 is the anniversary of the 1976 Gregg v. Georgia decision, which allowed executions to resume in the United States. The four days between these two historic anniversaries provide a natural opportunity for a demonstration of conscience on the issue of judicially-sanctioned state-sponsored killing.

The Abolitionist Action Committee (AAC) is an ad-hoc group of individuals committed to highly visible and effective public education for alternatives to the death penalty through nonviolent direct action. The Annual Fast & Vigil was started by the AAC in 1994 and was attended by a handful of abolitionists from across the United States. This annual event has grown steadily, and by 1998 more than 150 people attended part or all of the event, including at least 30 individuals who fasted at the Court or in solidarity with those at the Court.

In 2001, more than 300 people attended the Steve Earle concert despite incredibly inhospitable weather and close to 40 people broke fast at the court at the end of the vigil. In 2002, Fast & Vigil events were curtailed by extensive and ongoing renovations to the U.S. Capitol building across the street, and as we were fasting in 2003, construction workers were starting major renovations on the Supreme Court building itself. Despite the extra noise and dust, the sidewalk in front of the Court remains open, and Fast & Vigil participants respond by continuing our interaction with the public to the best of our ability.

The Fast & Vigil takes place on the sidewalk in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, considered by many to be the heart of the legalized killing machines in this country. In addition to the strong public witness, this is an excellent opportunity to meet other abolitionists and to "recharge your batteries" while engaging in public outreach and maintaining a physical presence at the Court. ***FASTING IS OPTIONAL***

 Prisoners, activists from other countries, and abolitionists who are unable to come to Washington, D.C. have fasted or held events in solidarity with the action at the Court. This tradition continues to grow as well - those who participate in solidarity are asked to communicate this to the Fast & Vigil organizers by e-mailing or by calling 800-973-6548.

As the Fast & Vigil has grown, greater attention to logistics has become necessary. Starting in 1997, Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (CUADP) volunteered to take on overall logistical and fiscal responsibility for the event. Other organizations have stepped up to the plate to provide funds, space and other resources in order to make this event possible. In 2003, major contributors and co-sponsors included:

For co-sponsorship opportunities for 'Starvin' For Justice '04', click here.


Everyone is welcome and invited to participate during all or any part of this event. Some Capitol Hill workers join us on their lunch hour. Other abolitionists cross oceans to attend the whole Fast & Vigil!

Participants are encouraged to arrive in Washington, D.C. by 7:00 p.m. on June 28 (In 2004, this is a Monday). The group will meet together at a location near the Court to share a "last meal" at 9:00 p.m. (those who register receive the exact location with their registration materials). Around 11:30 p.m., the group moves to the Court. The fast officially begins at 12:00 a.m. on June 29 with an opening ceremony in front of the Supreme Court. Again, it should be emphasized that FASTING IS NOT REQUIRED.

The vigil is maintained daily from about 8:00 a.m. to about 10:00 p.m. on June 29 and June 30

Starting at 8:00 a.m. on July 1, the vigil becomes continuous and is maintained overnight, ending at midnight of July 2. Participants then break the fast with a meal served at the Court. Water, juices and other liquids are provided for everyone present during the Fast & Vigil. Participants who stay for the end should plan to leave after 2 a.m. on July 3.

During the Fast & Vigil various activities are planned including rallies and music featuring E-Squared Recording Artist Steve Earle. Click here for write up and photos from the 2001 evening rally. Other events, like brief vigils at the time of executions taking place in other parts of the country, are scheduled as needed. Check the schedule for updates!

While there is plenty of time to kick back and relax early in the day and in the evening, there are busloads of tourists and students to be leafleted and given a little talk whenever possible. Our table features information about the death penalty, petitions, t-shirts and buttons, and contact information so that people may get involved at home. We are all volunteers, and participants are asked to help in whatever way they are comfortable. Because those attending the Fast & Vigil will be staying at different places, all gatherings, events and meetings take place at the Court during the hours of the vigil.


Participants may make their own sleeping arrangements or they stay with the main group at The Community for Creative Nonviolence. ***We regret that we are unable to accommodate pets.***

The Community for Creative Nonviolence (CCNV) is a homeless shelter that has a specially designated room for people who come to D.C. to do advocacy work. We have stayed at CCNV since the 1997 Fast & Vigil and at several other abolitionist events. We have had good experiences there and enjoy excellent relations with the staff and tenants. The setting is simple and the sleeping arrangements are bunk beds separated in cubicles. Bathrooms are shared with shelter staff and tenants. Participants need to bring their own bedding and towels. This room is usually air conditioned but that is not guaranteed. CCNV is a 15 minute walk from the Supreme Court. CCNV is wheelchair friendly. The AAC requests a minimum donation of $12 a night to cover security and other CCNV related costs. Registration must be handled through the AAC. Please try to register in advance, but there is usually plenty of room if you decide to come at the last minute.

Other Options

If you choose to stay elsewhere, you will find that the Supreme Court is easy to get to from all parts of D.C. using public transportation. If you wish to stay at a hotel, the closest one to the Court is the Capitol Hill Suites. The phone number is (202) 543-6000.


The closest airport to Washington, D.C. is National Airport. Both CCNV and the Court are easily accessed from the airport by taking Metro (D.C.'s subway system). Directions will be sent to those who register. Dulles and Baltimore International Airports are within an hour of D.C. and shuttle/Metro services are available to Union Station (the train station), which is just a few minute walk from both the Court and CCNV. For those driving, street parking is limited but many public parking lots are nearby. Again, directions will be sent upon registering.


We are seeking donations of juice, bottled water and other drinks. However, if sufficient quantities are not obtained, participants may need to make a financial contribution towards the purchase of these items.

A meal will be provided when we break the fast on July 2 at midnight. Those who are not fasting will be responsible for their own meals during the Fast & Vigil. Our one rule is that those who choose not to fast are asked not to discuss or consume food at the Fast & Vigil site in front of the Court. Consider the cafeteria at the Court! The food there sure smells good, and on one occasion a Faster who went there to buy some tea met Justice Brennan in line, and invited him to join us! (He politely declined.)


For a printed package including registration forms and additional information, please contact the AAC c/o CUADP at 800-973-6548, e-mail, or snail-mail: PMB 335, 2603 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hwy, Gainesville, FL 32609.

Or click here to view the following forms and information on line


Abolitionist Action Committee (AAC)
c/o PMB 335, 2603 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hwy,
Gainesville, FL 32609


This web site is sponsored by:
Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty