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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
The Coffeehouse Story
This is the coffeehouse story. It is a story of harassment, a story of repression, a story ultimately, of resistance. These chronicles are of attempts to muzzle freedom of expresson and to deny freedom of assembly. This is a story of subversion: subversion by the US Army and a small-town police state of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States. It is an exposure of the efforts of the army and its civilian puppets, the City of Maldraugh and the County of Meade to shut down the Fort Knox coffeehouse and deny to GIs the right to get together and talk, because the things they might talk about are to these petty officials uncomfortable, and to the army that controls them and their economy, unbearable. The coffeehouse is an undeniable threat to the military hierarchy because GIs would there have the chance to think, to understand how the military is using them to maintain their power over little people around the world and nation. The coffeehouse is a threat to local authority because the army controls jobs for their community and money for their pockets.
These lines here set down are lines of ACCUSATION: for three weeks the management of the coffeehouse have been trying to open their establishment to the GI public. In that time they have been subject to all and sundry forms of harassment, to legal and illegal maneuver, to intimidation and threat from the army and local power structures. Because these cheap proto-fascists have believed us to be but a bunch of defenseless kids and troublemaking GIs, they have believed they could apply any form of pressure within and without the limits of the law in their effort to close our doors; but, perhaps on the power of the GI press, they have not reckoned.
WE ACCUSE the Maldraugh officials of amending their town charter to include a new law, for the special benefitof the coffeehouse, requiring a police investigation of all new businesses or public places. We suggest that this law will be discriminately applied against the coffeehouse alone and that the city fathers have no intention of harassing other businesses in their fair city in any siiniliar manner. With the aid of this law (passed Sept 2nd) they have momentarily kept us closed.
WE ACCUSE the police department of Maldraugh and the Sheriff of Meadé County of carrying on, under Army encouragement, a systematic campaign of harassment against the coffeehouse.
This program has included repeated and unwelcome appearances on the premises conducted in a threatening manner. They have come in checking the literature with flashlights even though all the lights were on. They have conducted unwarranted questionings and, in an effort to intimidate GIs from returning, have taken names and sent them to post. They have believed that by a show of petty arbitrary force they can dissuade the GIs and civilians who work in the coffeehouse from providing a place of assembly and expression for Ft Knox GIs looking for refuge from the suffocation on post. Some of these instances of harrasment have involved a good deal of commendable imagination on the part of local officials and this we must acknowledge. For example, one GI was drinking a beer on the private property adjacent to the coffeehouse, which is permissable in Meade County. A Maldraugh patrolman demanded that the GI approach him across the street, which was public property, whereupon he directed the GI to empty his beer on the street or face arrest for drinking alcoholic beverages on public property. The patrolman, however, cannot be given credit for originality since for his department this is a standard approach to the technique of law enforcement. Several nights before a Maldraugh cop performed the same disarming little trick on another GI; because this particular GI was black rather than white, he was not given the opportunity to empty his beer on the street; instead he spent a night in jail and paid a fine of $31.40. Such is justice. On another occassion, a patrolman, one D. Harris, demanded entrance to the coffeehouse through a private entrance leading to apartments above. When he was refused for lack of warrant, his response to the refusing GI was: "Boy, I'll walk right over you." He did not walk right over the boy, despite his rage, but did order the coffeehouse to keep all lights out or face arrest even though it was not open for business.
WE ACCUSE the County of Meade of denying the coffeehouse licenses and permits and of enforcing against the coffeehouse requirements they enforce in no other place. Before these officials were aware of the nature of our business we seemed to have everything in order, but now we are woefully lacking. In addition they seem to have misplaced several of our applications for permits.
WE ACCUSE The county of Meade of manufacturing false and ludicrous charges against the coffeehouse. These highly imaginative officials have suggested that crffeehouse people were purveyors of obscene literature to the children of Maldraugh, and that by sitting on a roof for a meeting to escape the heat, they constituted a public disturbance although nothing went on there but orderly and inoffensive discussion. Trial will be held September 24 and October 6 in Meade County courthouse in Brandenberg, Ky. If you care about the coffeehouse--or about the quality of the judicial process in the US, come on out and support us on those dates.
WE ACCUSE the officialdom of army and local jurisdictions of applying pressures against the owners of the property the coffeehouse is rented from. The owners were thus led, by County Attorney, J.R. Watts to refuse the coffeehouse rent, and after it was delivered by registered letter, to send it back. From this they have manufactured a charge demanding the coffeehouse evacuate the premises for non-payment of rent.
WE ACCUSE THE ARMY HIERARCHY AT FORT KNOX OF APPLYING PRESSURES IN CONTRAVENTION OF THEIR OWN REGULATIONS ON LOCAL OFFICIALS IN AN EFFORT TO CLOSE THE COFFEEHOUSE AND DENY GIS ACCESS TO ANY OPINION OR ATMOSPHERE OTHER THAN THEIR OWN. It is interesting that at a previous hearing in County Court, MI (mil. intelligence) agents were identified in the courtroom, and when we tried to take their picture, they covered their faces and ran from the room, tails between their legs. There can be no doubt thaat the harassment has been engineered by the big wheels at Fort Knox and that the police and officials of Maldraugh and Meade County are simply the mindless tools of the military brass.
Fun Travel Adventure, no. 17