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Let A Thousand Nuisances

FORT KNOX (SCEF) - Local officials have defied a federal judge and resumed their efforts to close down a GI coffeehouse at the gates of Fort Knox.

The first attack, last fall, took the form of indictments against six coffeehouse supporters. They were charged with "maintaining a common public nuisance frequented by idle and evil disposed people" and violating sanitary regulations. A federal judge ordered local officials to stop the prosecution until the constitutional issues could be considered.

The coffeehouse supporters were also given an eviction notice and ordered to post $10,000 to remain in the building pending an appeal, denied business licenses, questioned by a grand jury, jailed for contempt and harassed by local police.

But the coffeehouse remained open and 4eveloped an active program among the GIs at the base, in spite of these attacks.

On Feb. 24, Susan Schermerhorn and David Portugal went to court for the scheduled eviction appeal. The hearing was cancelled, but the two were arrested on new charges of maintaining a public nuisance. The Meade County grand jury ignored the federal court injunction and had issued new indictments on the same charges against the same six people.

Schermerorn and. Portugal refused to post $1,000 bond, charging that the indictments were illegal. They remained in jail for the next three weeks and were released on recognizance finally.

Meanwhile, GIs have started a boycott of all local businessmen who refuse to sign a petition to the mayor. The petition demands an end to the harassment of the coffeehouse and the firing of Police Chief David Ridenour, one of the main agents of the erassment.

GIs and civilians have joined together to leaflet in Muldraugh to win support for the boycott. Organized vigilante gangs of up to 100 people have attacked the leafleters. There have been beatings with fists and clubs, though serious injury has not oocurred as yet. Nine leafleters six GIs and three civilians were arrested by Muldraugh police but refused to post bond again to test the law.

FORT JACKSON - More than 2000 people showed up to Freak the Army in Columbia, S.C., Mar. 8, as GIs, college students, and just folks took over the South Carolina State Fairgrounds. Such unity will undoubtedly freak the brass. The festival raised money for the embattled UFO coffeehouse, which serves GIs at Fort Jackson. The UFO was closed down, and four of its operators jailed under a total of $28,500 bail, on charges of "maintaining a public nuisance" on Jan. 15. The ACLU has filed suit to stop prosecutions and to lift the injunction against the UFO. Meanwhile, "UFO in exile" is operating on the USC campus.

FORT DIX - The Fort Dix Coffee House was fire-bombed Feb. 14, injuring at least three persons. The Coffee House was crowded with soldiers from Fort Dix and their dates.

Leroy Towney, one of the operators of the Coffee House, said an Army "power bomb" which carries a small explosive impact, was rolled in from the doorway. He said that several soldiers attempted to grab the bomb, but it exploded before they reached it.

The bombing was the latest in a series of vandalism and harassment aimed at driving the controversial Coffee House out of town. The Coffee House was forced to close temporarily because the landlord canceled their lease.


Left Face, vol. 2, no. 1


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