The scene at the small Belvoir Restaurant near here today could have been out of the 1960s: four black women tried to eat lunch at the restaurant, which had refused to serve blacks two decades ago.
Today, despite a 1967 federal court order that bars the restaurant's owner from discriminating against blacks, the four women were not served.
Roy E. McKoy, who went to jail twice rather than desegregate his Belvoir Restaurant, had closed the small cafe on Rte. 55 before the women arrived, declaring he was not serving lunch to anyone. From the back yard of his combined restaurant-home, McKoy, 60, ordered state police officers, deputy sheriffs and the women off his property. They left.
"I am old enough to have marched with Martin Luther King and to think that I'd never have to do this again," said Laurie Jackson of Dale City, a longtime civil rights activist. She led the women to the restaurant today after a civil rights lawyer told her that McKoy once again had refused to serve blacks.
The lawyer had seen an account on Washington television station WRC-TV (Channel 4) that reported this week that a three-member news crew, which included two blacks, had been refused service at the restaurant Oct. 30. McKoy told the TV crew that he would serve them coffee, but that it would cost "$500 a cup," said reporter Jim Upshaw, who was back at the restaurant today.
"This is ridiculous," said Jackson, who for four years in the mid-1960s ran voter registration projects for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in northern Alabama. "We came because we feel like it's our duty, because there is no excuse for something like this being permitted to continue."
Jackson expressed frustration that McKoy, who was jailed in 1967 and again in 1974 for failing to comply with orders to serve blacks, appeared to have avoided a confrontation over a few weeks. She said she and her friends will return to the restaurant in a few weeks and try to be served.
According to Virginia law enforcement officials, McKoy is under a permanent federal order directing him to comply with the 1964 Civil Rights Act and serve blacks. At the time of his first confrontation over the issue, McKoy had signs in his restaurant protesting, "Our government has unconstitutionally told us whom we must serve when open for business." At one hearing in Alexandria he told a federal judge that constitutional rights do not include "the dark people."
McKoy has no telephone and refused today to talk to reporters at his house.
Roger A. Inger, an assistant prosecutor for Fauquier County, said that after the 1974 incident, local authorities had received no complaints about the restaurant, located near the county livestock exchange. The presence of 20 law officers there today was the result of a tip that a group of blacks would try to eat at the restaurant, Inger said.
"We were out today to advise Mr. McKoy that if in fact they went in and were refused service -- to advise Mr. McKoy of the law that prohibits discrimination," Inger said. "We were there to see the law enforced."
Inger said that McKoy violated no law today. "The place was closed. The man can close his restaurant," Inger said.
A spokesman for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in Washington said records of the 1967 order, issued by the late District Judge Oren R. Lewis, were being extricated from storage and would be examined to see if any of McKoy's conduct has violated that order.
McKoy is viewed by townsfolk as something of an eccentric. His small restaurant is well known, even several towns away, and mention of it usually draws a smile.
Word of today's standoff spread quickly. At Charles Ebbet's Ford dealership here it evoked knowing chuckles. "Good ol' Roy McKoy," said one customer, smiling and shaking his head. Salesmen and customers said most people here don't take McKoy seriously.
A woman who answered the door of the home near his restaurant said McKoy "serves a good meal . . . is just being harassed," and should be allowed to serve whom he pleased. "They should leave him alone."