“Obscene” Kite Busts Fifth Estate Art Editor


Fifth Estate # 31, June 1-15, 1967

Cover image, Issue 31, June 1-15, 1967, shows 3 page-one stories: Detroit Fan Fair; "Obscene" Kite Busts Fifth Estate Art Editor; Piece Pow-Wow at WSU.The local gestapo ended their celebration of National Police Week Sunday, May 21, by staging a tiny raid on the offices of the FIFTH ESTATE’S brother newspaper, THE SUN, at 4863 John Lodge, and took SUN editor Gary Grimshaw into temporary custody for “exhibiting an obscene drawing.” Grimshaw is also Art Editor of the FIFTH ESTATE.

The drawing under indictment was an American flag kite which carried the legend “Fuck America—go fly a kite,” and a drawing of the Egyptian peace eye superimposed over the flag which was hanging from a light fixture.

Grimshaw was in the SUN office counting papers when two officers from the Vernor precinct walked in the open door and started talking with him about his appearance, the newspaper, the neighborhood, and other topics of concern to them when one of the officers spotted the decorated kite, which was facing the back of the room.

He flipped, cut down the flag, and called three more squad cars for help. By this time SUN staff member Jerry Younkins and other reinforcements had shown up and were questioning the police agents about their activities. Grimshaw was taken to the Vernor precinct station where the arresting officers gave the desk sergeant this story:

” We were traveling down the John Lodge expressway and looked up to see the door of the SUN building wide open on a Sunday afternoon. We disembarked and went over there to check it out when we noticed the obscene drawing, which we could see FROM THE SIDEWALK.”

A check of the rulebooks determined that there was an ordinance forbidding the display of obscene drawings which could be seen from outside, and Grimshaw was issued a ticket.

His court date will be June 7th, in Traffic Court (!), 600 Randolph, in downtown Detroit. All interested parties are urged to be there to witness the weird courtroom proceedings.