Three black women yesterday filed a discrimination suit against a Fauquier County restaurant owner who they say refused to serve them because of their race.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, accuses Roy E. McKoy, who has twice gone to jail rather than serve blacks, of violating a standing federal court order directing him to comply with the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Friday night, McKoy locked the doors of his small cafe as three black women -- civil rights activist Lori Jackson of Dale City and her two adult daughters, Denise Johnson and Debrah Williams -- tried to enter.
A white customer was drinking coffee and eating apple pie inside the restaurant at the time.
McKoy and his wife, Patricia, who operate the Belvoir Restaurant in the tiny town of Marshall, Va., about 55 miles west of Washington, "have resisted granting blacks free access to the restaurant for as many years as they have owned or managed it," the suit alleges.
"They're harassing me," McKoy said of the women's suit in a telephone interview yesterday. He added, "I let whoever I want in."
The suit alleges that "Patricia McKoy physically accosted plaintiff Jackson by grabbing her arm and pushing her and the other plaintiffs, and repeated the statement that the restaurant was 'closed.' "
"They came to the door," said Roy McKoy. "The door was closed. They didn't come in."
When asked why he refused to allow them in the cafe, McKoy responded, "That's my business."
The restaurant owners' behavior "constitutes outrageous conduct unacceptable under any civilized standard of decency," court papers filed in the case state.
During a hearing in 1967, McKoy told federal Judge Oren Lewis that constitutional rights did not apply to "the dark people." He was jailed in 1967 and again in 1974 for failing to comply with the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act.
"He McKoy has thumbed his nose at the Constitution and he's been willing to go to jail," said Victor M. Glasberg, an Alexandria attorney who is working with the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the three women. "Some people only understand money."
Glasberg said he believes the suit will have more clout with McKoy than previous court orders because it seeks "appropriate" monetary damages, to be set by the jury, for emotional stress that McKoy's actions allegedly caused the women.
Both the FBI and the Justice Department say that they are investigating an Oct. 29 incident at the restaurant during which McKoy allegedly refused to serve a WRC-TV crew that included two blacks.
McKoy reportedly told the crew he would serve them coffee, but it would cost "$500 a cup."
After hearing about that incident, Jackson and three other black women tried to enter the restaurant on Nov. 29, but found it closed. Jackson then returned to the restaurant with her daughters Friday night.
The suit alleges that before the three women left Marshall on Friday, a woman "drove up to them in a pickup truck shouting racial and other epithets at them."
The Belvoir Restaurant is located at a crossroads along Rte. 55, halfway between Marshall and The Plains, across the street from the Fauquier Livestock Exchange.