INTEGRATION ORDERED FOR 2 RESTAURANTS
A federal judge ruled yesterday two St Augustine restaurants must integrate, but granted a 30-day delay to attack the problem of intimidation by white segregationists.
In Florida’s first cases under the Civil Rights Act, U.S. District Judge Bryan Simpson took note of testimony that restaurant owners were intimidated by groups of whites.
Both the owners of Rusty’s Restaurant and the Santa Maria Restaurant testified they would attempt to comply with the civil rights law if it were not for the presence of groups of whites.
“I am aware of the question of interference of these outside groups,” Simpson said. He noted that a suit scheduled for hearing Tuesday seeks to enjoin persons from interfering with implementation of the Civil Rights Act.
THE JUDGE said he would delay the effective date of the injunction for 30 days but would leave the door pen for the Negroes to ask later that the date be advanced.
Simpson questioned Russell Allen Jr., owner of Rusty’s, about the identity of members of a white group that formed outside his restaurant July 9th when Negroes sought service there. Allan testified that he did not serve the Negroes because his customers threatened to boycott him and he feared there would be violence from the whites outside.
Allen said he had “seen some of the men around” but did not know their names or where to find them.
“You’re in fear at this moment about giving their names aren’t you?” the judge asked.
“I don’t want to cause any trouble,” the husky, 27-tear-old Allen replied.
“The only way your place is going to be protected by law is for you to name them,” Simpson told him. “It’s a pretty sorry mess.”
LOUIS CONNELL, owner of the Santa Maria Restaurant, testified Wednesday he locked his door to a group of Negroes because three carloads of whites had pulled up. “I was scared and I don’t mind admitting it,” he said. “I didn’t want my place torn up.”
Hamilton Upchurch, attorney for the restaurants , argued that the refusal to serve was not based color but on the presence of whites outside.
“In each instance there was this outside spectre hanging over them,” Upchurch said. “Mr. Allen certainly can’t be chastised if he had reasonable cause to believe if he served them there would be some injury to his family or his business.
It was not the intent of the act to tie this man to the mountainside as a lamb to wait for the wolves.”
UPCHURCH also argued that the civil rights law was unconstitutional, that it was not proved the restaurants were interstate commerce, and that there was no showing there would be irreparable injury to the Negroes if the temporary injunction was not issued pending a final hearing.
Simpson ruled against all three contentions. He pointed out he was following Wednesday’s decision of a three-judge court in Atlanta that found the act constitutional.
On the question of irreparable injury, Simpson said, “denial of the constitutional right even for an hour is an irreparable injury. I don’t think we can deal with the argument that he has to be starving to death to get a temporary injunction.”
The judge called “a deliberate subterfuge” Connell’s statement to a group of Negroes that his restaurant was closed. Simpson said the refusal of Connell’s waitresses to serve two Negroes who were later admitted was a denial of service under the new law.
Simpson ruled Allan’s refusal to serve was based on color. He said he was strengthened in his belief by Allan’s admission in court on Wednesday that he struck a Negro who sought service at his father’s barbecue place and chased and struck a white integrationist who had been standing by.
Allan had testified that he had struck the Negro when the Negro called him “an ignorant white man.”