Breaking

Motel manager pouring acid in the water when black people swam in his pool, 1964

 

This famous photo by Horace Cort shows a group of white and black integrationists at the former Monson Motor Lodge swimming pool on June 18, 1964. The picture was associated with the St. Augustine Movement, named after the Florida town where it took place. Many peaceful protests and demonstrations were responded to with violence, leading to more and more complex protests.

On June 11, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested for trespassing after being asked to leave his separate restaurant at the Monson Motor Lodge. This (and other things) helped a group of protesters, black and white, jump into the pool as part of a strategically planned program to end segregation at the motel pool.

The pool at this motel was designated "white only". Whites who paid for motel rooms invited blacks to join the motel pool as their guests.

This swim-in was planned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and two associates. The motel manager, Jimmy Brock, in an attempt to break up the party, pours a bottle of muriatic acid into the pool, hoping the swimmers will panic and leave.

One swimmer, who knew that the ratio of acid to pool water was so high that acid was no longer a threat, drank some of the pool water to calm the fears of the other swimmers.


Muriatic acid is undiluted hydrochloric acid and is used in cleaning masonry surfaces such as pools. But what people heard was the word "acid".

It did not intimidate swimmers, although it appears to have been effective in minimally irritating the demonstrators – the amount of acid in the water was so low that it was mostly safe – and so a police officer was able to arrest the people. jumped for

Many people of the time remember Brock more as a victim of the incident. A moment of anger gave birth to an unwanted legacy. "Jimmy took the brunt of it. He was a good boy". Said Eddie Muslem, a fellow hotelier and longtime friend. “He had to choose a motel, so he chose Jimmy's Motel. I always told him he did something stupid." Brock found himself under pressure from civil rights groups and militant whites fighting unification. In 2007, at the age of 85, Jimmy Brock died at his St. Augustine home. Done.

The motel and pool were demolished in March 2003 despite five years of protests, thus destroying one of the country's important landmarks of the civil rights movement. A Hilton Hotel was built on the site.

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