Fred McDarrah Gets the Becks in Even More Trouble!


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

May 21, 1964, Vol. IX, No. 31

Feds & Local Cops Battle Over Becks

By Stephanie Gervis Harrington

The inevitable happening finally happened in the case of the United States vs. Julian and Judith Malina Beck, and the scene that unfolded at Foley Square on Monday afternoon was as much Pirandello as it was Living Theatre. For, as the Becks were about to enter the Federal Courthouse for Monday afternoon’s session of their trial, they just missed getting enmeshed in a case in the midst of a case. They were rescued, however, and partly through the efforts of the U.S. attorney currently prosecuting them.

It all began when, as the Becks were entering the courthouse at approximately 2 p.m., Village Voice photographer Fred McDarrah asked them to pose for a picture on the steps of the building.

After the picture-taking they remained outside, on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse, talking to their associates.

As they stood there, Patrolman Arthur Adelson of the Fifth Precinct asked them to move along, saying they were blocking the sidewalk. They obliged and moved onto the steps. Patrolman Adelson then told them they were blocking the steps, which are a block wide and were practically empty at the time. The Becks explained that they were on trial inside the building and just wanted to discuss their case for a few minutes before going in. The patrolman insisted they move. They refused and sat down. Patrolman Adelson then told them they were under arrest.

…Meanwhile, in the best tradition of the U.S. Cavalry, Peter K. Leisure, the Government prosecutor in the Living Theatre case, attempted to come to the rescue. Leisure, a man of imposing height, and a phalanx of Federal Marshals proceeded down the courthouse steps and asked that the Becks be delivered into their custody so the trial could go on. The city policeman refused.

…Leisure succeeded in rescuing his fellow protagonists in time for the matinee. He stepped up to the police officers, introduced himself, and explained that they were defendants in a federal case now in progress and that the judge and jury were waiting inside.

…As The Voice was going to press on Tuesday, the Becks were still proceeding with their defense witnesses…

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