Death at the Washington Monument
December 8, 1982 - It was on this day Norman Mayer parked a white van at the foot of the Washington Monument. On the side of the vehicle was a sign with big block letters that read, "BAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS."
Mayer was wearing a black motorcycle helmet and a bright blue snowsuit. In his hand he held a remote control and claimed that he would use it to blow up the 1000 pounds of TNT in the van. U.S. Park Police evacuated nearby buildings and cordoned off the area.
A tense negotiation began during which Mayer demanded that the threat of nuclear weapons be taken seriously. Since 1978, Mayer had been an active voice against nuclear arms proliferation. For the 6 months leading up to his takeover of the Washington Monument, Mayer had been making regular appearances outside the White House where he posted signs calling for an end to the nuclear threat. Apparently Mayer had grown frustrated with the lack of progress he was making in his battle against nukes.
By seizing the Washington Monument he hoped to capture the world's attention. Ten hours into the siege, Mayer abruptly climbed back into the van and started driving away. Police opened fire and killed him.
In the aftermath it was determined he was unarmed and that the van held no explosives. As a veteran of the Navy, Mayer's ashes were interred at Arlington National Cemetery.