The first protest to integrate the Monroe pool happened in 1957. That protest ended in the Ku Klux Klan attacking the home of the president of the NAACP and the NAACP fighting them off with rifles. Every year after, there was a summer protest at the pool. But Robert Williams decided to make a determinative stand in 1961. He went to Harlem to raise funds to buy guns to protect the protesters in the event of Kluxer retaliation.
The protest began on June 18, 1961, when Robert Williams brought twelve Black teenagers to the pool to protest. They stayed outside and picketed because the pool personnel denied them entry. The picket continued for a few days. Then on June 22, Whites brought guns and fired into the air to intimidate protesters. Williams doubled down and said that the city council has to integrate the current pool or make plans to create a black pool. If the council did nothing he and his protester would stage a “wade-in” the next day.
Protesters stopped to eat lunch at a neighboring park at 3 pm on June 23. They ate at a picnic table labeled “Whites Only.” They heard shots whiz past their heads. Williams alerted the local policemen that witnessed the scene. They refused to do anything. Then Williams and company decided to head home to call the Justice Department to see if they would intervene.
A much larger De Soto followed the Hillman driven by Williams on his return home. The driver of the De Soto rammed Williams at 70 mph running him off the road. The De Soto speed off. Williams attempted to file a police report on the incident and the police again refused to act. It was not until Williams relayed the story to the press that the police were shamed into acting on the incident.
June 25 the protesters decided to go back to the pool. This time their car was rammed by an old Ford Truck. The truck’s windows had been removed, and it looked like it was ready for the demolition derby. The man in the truck ran Williams off the road again and came out with a baseball bat threatening to attack. But this time, Williams come out of the car with an Italian rifle. His two associates had pistols. A mob of Whites then formed around the car.
Because Williams and his company were armed, they held everyone at bay. The police arrived and tried to disarm Williams. He pushed the policeman to the ground, pointed his rifle at him, and told him there was no way he was surrendering to a mob. The police then dispersed the mob and allowed Williams to go to the pool. That night Williams barricades his house and prepared for a Kluxer attack. It never came.
The next Saturday Williams went out to deliver his newspaper “The Crusader” when he was pulled over by police. They tell him his taillight is damaged and they must arrest him. Of course, a Kluxers ramming his car twice the week prior damaged his taillight. Williams knew if the police arrest him, they will lynch him in jail. He said he will not go to jail in the policeman’s car. He would follow them in his own car to the jail. The police agree. Once near his home, he made a run for his house the police give chase.
Once at home his wife Mabel sees him frantically trying to untie their dog to aid in his defense from the police. She ran outside with a shotgun. She saw the police and held them at gunpoint and asked what was happening. The police say they want to arrest him for a taillight being out. Mabel replies they should have arrested the men that ran him off the road. If they did not have a warrant, they had to leave. The police see the shotgun pointed at them and decide to retreat.
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