Phone Tax Protester Peter Kiger in Court

A blip of American war tax resistance history, through the lens of a court decision that turned up on line. Here are some excerpts from People v. Kiger, as decided by Judge Joseph Stone of the Criminal Court of the City of New York:

On , Peter N. Kiger was served with a summons charging him with violating section 701.2 (subd. [b]) of the Rules and Regulations for Use of the New York City Transit Authority… [which] reads, “No person shall place, or cause, or procure to be placed upon or affixed to any part of the transit system any words, characters or device as a notice of, or reference to, any article, business, exhibition, profession, matter or event.” …

Detective Alfred Gunderson of the New York City Transit Authority testified that he saw the defendant affix a small gummed-back sticker on the columns or pillars of the northbound platform at the West 4th Street Independent subway station. In addition, he saw defendant affix such stickers on vending machines, candy machines and soda machines on this platform. Altogether, he saw defendant affix about six of these stickers. A sample of the sticker in question was received in evidence as People’s Exhibit No. 1. The sticker, about two by four inches reads, “Hang up on war. Don’t pay phone tax. Many thousands are refusing to pay the federal phone tax that goes for war. For information: War Tax Resistance, 339 Lafayette Street, New York City 10012 (212) 477‒2970.” The sticker also depicts a hand on the receiver of a phone.

Kiger tried a First Amendment defense, but the court wasn’t buying it — it found him guilty and fined him $10.

In , Kiger had refused to be conscripted into the military, and had also refused to be drafted into an alternative civilian service position for conscientious objectors, and he was sentenced to two years in prison for his refusal. He also picked up a three-month prison sentence in for having burnt his draft card in . Headlines of some other newspaper articles behind paywalls hint at other arrests for anti-war actions — including a conviction for desecrating the American flag (for waving one in which the stars had been replaced with dollar signs), and an arrest at the Pentagon alongside Norman Mailer and a handful of other incorrigible ne’er-d’ye-wells.