The Coffee Houses Strike Back!


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March 30, 1961, Vol. VI, No. 23

Gaslight Boss Blasts Police

The MacDougal Street turmoil, which has seen Fire Department closings, summonses, and rumors of a secret investigation, brought a particularly bitter attack against the police this week from John Mitchell, proprietor of the Gaslight Coffee House.

“I have been instrumental in instigating investigations of the police,” Mitchell stated to the Voice. “I have testified before the State Investigation group, and the Department of Justice.”

Mitchell pinpointed angry complaints about alleged mistreatment by stating, “On the precinct level, the police have been lax in their duty to protect us. We have been burglarized, threatened with death, our shops have been smashed, and we have been told not to cater to interracial couples.” Implying that the police have made little effort to prevent this, Mitchell said: “On the other hand they have been the epitome of diligence in pursuing other duties. We have been served so many summonses our lives have become legal nightmares.”

Mitchell, who claimed without specific reference that he had also been threatened by police officers, hoped he could get support of local civic groups in probing the situation.

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