The Police Raid Peace Eye Bookstore

The Police Raid Peace Eye Bookstore

The New York Police Department raided Ed Sanders’s Peace Eye Bookstore early in the morning on January 1, 1966, for allegedly distributing obscene materials. Ironically, Sanders had been selling Fuck You/A Magazine of the Arts via the United States Postal Service since 1962 without being hassled, despite regularly receiving mail addressed to “Ed Sanders, Fuck You, Stuyvesant Station, New York” or “Fuck You, Peace Eye.” Sanders observed, “It made me proud of being in a free country and having a tolerant post office branch.” Apparently, that tolerance didn’t extend to the local police precinct; Sanders was placed under arrest, and boxes full of printed matter were carted away to the station. “Indeed, there was a marked contrast of facial expressions between the grumpy arresting officer and the policemen at the station house,” he recalled. “For being such a serious matter—that is, booking of a likely criminal, me—there certainly was a lot of mirth in the Ninth Precinct. ‘Hey, you’re Peace Eye!’ one officer boomed. I nodded. ‘Hello, Peace Eye!’ another exclaimed. I nodded. ‘Let me take a look!’ another commented and smiled, and laughing officers passed magazines hand to hand.” Sanders was charged with possession of obscene literature with intent to sell, a misdemeanor. The trial finally began May 22, 1967, and the legal battle would be among the last in a wave of obscenity trials that resulted in expanded boundaries regarding free speech in America.

From Chapter 19 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Peace Eye Bookstore
383 E 10th St, New York, NY 10009