Signs Land Seven In Court
By: Clifford Jeffery, www.SturgisJournal.Com
Date: April 03, 2003  

What started as an April Fool's joke involving bad grammar landed seven people in jail Tuesday.

Sturgis police arrested seven Sturgis men for placing more than 20 threatening letters on various businesses, schools, banks and at the post office. At least 12 signs were posted Monday morning. Another 20 were put up Tuesday evening, according to Sturgis police.

The letters all read "All your base are belong to us and you have no chance to survive, make your time."

Information about the letters was forwarded to the FBI and U.S. postal authorities, said Sturgis police Chief Eugene Alli.

"This is no joking matter," he said. "During a time of war and with the present concern for homeland security, terrorist acts will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

The "All your base are belong to us" are lines said by Cats, a bad guy in a 1989 Japanese video game. The poor translation to English led to its use by many involved in the video game culture.

According to the "All your base are belong to us" Web site, a voiceover of the Zero Wing video game introduction, including the poorly translated line, was put to music and sung by a Wayne Newton impersonator. Stories about the phrase have appeared in Time, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times and Wired. The phrase is printed on T-shirts and bumper stickers.

But police were not in on the joke.

Officer Damon Knapp witnessed three people placing the signs on a downtown business. By early this morning, police had arrested seven men, charging them with disorderly conduct.

Robert McNew, 20, Carl McNew, 19, John Wolf, 20, William Caldwell, 17, Dustin Garn, 19, Kirk Vezeau, 20, and Kyle Woodward, 18, were all released after posting bond.

They are scheduled to appear in St. Joseph County District Court April 16.