THREAD The GI Coffeehouse Movement grew throughout the 60s & 70s but was met w/ military repression, & many were shut down. During the height of the Iraq War, veterans revived the coffeehouse tradition to build community and resistance. Join
The 1st GI coffee house was opened near Ft. Jackson in 1967, by Fred Garner, a reservist who had served in Vietnam opened The UFO Coffeehouse, to provide soldiers a place to escape the authoritarian grip of the military.…
Not by coincidence, the coffeehouse was located near the USO. It also served as one of the 1st racially segregated public places in Columbia, SC. The UFO was off-limits to military personnel from nearby Ft. Jackson and for a period of time, they actually posted MPs outside.
After 2 yrs of providing a place for soldiers, and enduring harassment from the US Army & local officials, authorities arrested the 3 operators of UFO on trumped-up charges for “operating a public nuisance.” Each sentenced to 6 yrs in prison.
By 1970, 19 coffee houses had opened across the U.S., including The Oleo Strut outside Fort Hood, in Killeen, TX and The Shelter Half, outside Fort Lewis, in Tacoma, WA.
GI Coffeehouses also provided a place for the growth of underground GI newspapers, that often addressed not just the controlled lives of servicemembers and criticism of the war in Vietnam, but also the connection to larger social justice issues, particularly those of race.
GI Coffeehouses were seen as radical threats & endured government supported harassment. In '70, a cafe near Ft Dix was damaged by a grenade injuring 3 people. A cafe near Camp Pendleton was hit by .45 caliber machine gun fire, injuring a Marine.
GI Coffeehouses also helped servicemembers challenge authoritarianism of the military, as they organized w/ each other and civilian activists, engaging the media, which pressured the U.S. military into reducing their punishment of antiwar activists. #GIResistance
After the start of the Iraq War in March 2003, GI Coffeehouses began to surge again. Under The Hood outside Ft Hood in Killeen, Texas provided a base of operations for #OperationRecovery a veteran and service-member led a campaign to stop the deployment of troops with trauma.
After 3 years of outreach at Fort Hood; more than a 1000 conversations w soldiers, veterans and their families; and 31 in-depth testimonials, the Fort Hood Testimony Report was authored by @civsol, @VetsAboutFace, and @uthcafe.
Operation Recovery: Fort Hood Soldiers and Veterans Testify on the Right to Heal (or ‘the Fort Hood Testimony Report’) took a hard look at what the costs of more than a decade of war have had on one of the largest military community’s in the country. Link:…
It offered a rare glimpse into the impact of multiple deployments, overmedication, stigma, as well as the subsequent increase in disciplinary infractions and discharges accompanying the military’s ‘drawdown’. #FortHood #Killeen…
With the closing of “Under the Hood” in Tx & “The Clearing Barrel” in Germany, there are no GI coffeehouses left, but without a doubt, as long as war and militarism continue, we’ll see more spring up in the coming years, in new forms to provide fertile ground for dissent.
The struggle continues to connect to our past struggles and lay the path for future resistance to war and militarism. Join the Campaign to
Thank you to David Parsons, whose dissertation and subsequent book, “Dangerous Grounds: Antiwar Coffee Houses and Military Dissent in the Vietnam Era” was a valuable resource in creating this thread.
EDIT: We accidentally identified UFO as “first segregated places on SC” when we meant to write “first integrated public places in SC”
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