Sign Language 

How one downtown business exercised its First Amendment rights.

Last Friday, along with flyers advertising local theaters and St. Patrick's Day festivities, a poster in the window of the Empire Coffee Company took a stand.

The large white sign said that the coffee house at Main and Madison had been asked not to put any anti-Bush information in their window during the president's stay in Memphis. In tiny print at the bottom, it added, "We would instead like to remind the agent that we still have first amendment rights."

"Somebody called us Wednesday evening asking that people not put up any anti-Bush signs," says owner John Gasquet, "so I put up a sign saying I'd been asked not to."

Gasquet is not sure which federal agency, if any, the request came from. The caller may have identified himself, but Gasquet says he wasn't paying close attention at the time.

"When they first explained it, it sounded reasonable. They said they were trying to keep protests down to a minimum," he says. "It wasn't like, 'You can't do this.' It was just kind of suggested."

The sign was up in the morning during the president's chat at the Cannon Center but was gone by the afternoon because Bush was. Then Gasquet gave the sign away.

Before the telephoned request, the coffee house did not have any anti-Bush statements in the window.

"We've had things up for the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center before. We always have stuff up. We have a good number of posters in the window right now," says Gasquet.

He thinks he ticked a few people off with his sign and says it might have been a bad reaction, but he sticks with it.

"The explanation was reasonable enough. But the more I thought about it, the more I questioned the legitimacy of it," says Gasquet. "To have someone doing that, it just rubbed me the wrong way."

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Eyes on You

      Court says Memphis’ police surveillance violated consent decree.
    • New News

      ‘Daily Memphian’ will launch this fall.

Blogs

Music Blog

Gillian Welch Wows GPAC

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Alpha

Intermission Impossible

In Praise of "Love and Murder" at Playhouse on the Square

News Blog

MATA Looks to Hire More Trolley Operators

Music Blog

Listen Up: Cruelty of the Heavens

News Blog

VIDEO: SUV Driver Swerves Into Cyclists

Intermission Impossible

Ostranders to Honor Memphis Performers Who Died During 2017-18 Season

News Blog

Memphis Pets of the Week (August 16-22)

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Mary Cashiola

Readers also liked…

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation