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At first, the Brooklyn group's effort seemed about to live up to its nightmarish prospects. Early in the morning, some demonstrators tried to keep a subway train from moving by holding the doors open. A cop batted their hands with his night stick, the doors closed, and the train moved on.
Shortly afterward, another fair-bound train stopped in the station, and again a bunch of demonstrators wedged themselves in the doorways to keep the train from starting. This time a flying squad of Transit Authority police, some of them Negro, barreled to the rescue. The protesters refused to budge. The cops hauled them out one by one. Some of the demonstrators, several of whom were white, began fighting back. Billy-clubs began swinging, and before long some of the demonstrators were nursing bloodied heads. In all, 23 of them were carried off to jail.
But the stall-in got nowhere. For one thing, a chill rain kept thousands of would-be fairgoers at home. For another, the fear of getting caught in Brunson's traffic jam was enough to make all but the most imprudent motorist stay off the highways. So light was the traffic, in fact, that driving became almost a pleasure.
On the Roads. But the chief cause of the failure of the stall-in was Brunson's and his cohorts' own ineptitude. Only a few out-of-town demonstrators materialized; there were never more than a dozen cars operating on the highways in a stall-in effort. Brunson, who ventured cautiously onto the roads with some friends, quickly got disheartened over the presence of so many police and so few demonstrators, pulled off and disappeared for the day.
As for Galamison, he got into his 1962 Lincoln Continental and with Negro Comedian Dick Gregory drove along the expressways, looking in vain for a good place to stall. As he approached the fair site in Flushing Meadows, he found the dividing strip between lanes on the highway lined with police. Several times a fellow demonstrator, following Galamison in his own car, drew abreast of the minister and shouted: "When are you going to stall?" Galamison cried back: "Let's keep looking!"
At length he gave up. "I think the police have done an excellent job," he said, obviously deflated. "I've never seen traffic run so smooth." Returning to his Brooklyn headquarters, Galamison tried to figure out some face-saving ploy. "Should we try to regroup?" he asked plaintively. "Regroup what?" retorted Comedian Gregory.