Interview with Jim Ingram

OK Jim. First question: take us back to 1967. Tell us about the arrest at the gas station, that and what happened when you got to the police station.


It was the third afternoon since the rebellion had started that Sunday, I believe it was a Tuesday afternoon in '67 and, ah, I imagine it was July 25th, 'cause it started on July 23rd, that Sunday. And we were en route to picking up a young lady who was a friend of the family who had gotten stranded at her job because the buses had stopped running on orders of the mayor then, Jerome Cavanaugh, and we were riding with a man we had just met, sort of an acquaintance of the family of the girl that we were going to pick up. And he needed gas and he stopped at a gas station on Vernor and Sharon, which is a fairly active area of the city. People, throngs of people on the street. And we placed into this gas station which was relatively empty and that kind of caught me funny at the time because normally that gas station was full. But we saw that there were a couple of cars in front of us, one a gentleman was pumping gas into a vehicle and he had on coveralls as if he was a service station attendant. And so we were sitting there and it dawned on me and I said to the driver at the time that it dawned on me that "Hey, I think the governor has banned gasoline sales because of the, the possibility of people using that to make Molotov cocktails. I don't think we can get any gas here." So an argument ensued with the four of us, Ross Mitchell, my brother Don, and myself, and the driver, ah, and they were saying things like, "Well, why is he selling gasoline?" And at that point, when someone made that point or asked that question the, ah, guy jumped in the car and sped off. So, we knew he in fact was stealing gasoline and wasn't working at the station, just happened to have on a gasoline attendant, a gas station attire. So at the point where he careened into the street and around the corner on two wheels, we looked to our right and here came the Michigan State Police, firing automatic weapons out of, semi-automatic weapons out of the window and, ah, I just told the guys at that point, "Put your hands behind your, your necks because, ah, they're going to think right away that we're doing the same thing." And sure enough they, after they saw that they couldn't really catch this guy who had sped off, ah, they turned back into the station and, ah, trained their weapons on us and ordered us out of the car with our hands behind our necks. Of course we had been sitting there waiting for some thirty seconds already. And when we got out of the car, ah, I spoke to one of the State Troopers who said that we were stealing gas. And I said, "No, we were here trying to figure out what was going on and I was telling the driver about the ban and so forth." At which point he said, "Well, we just got to get some of you people off the streets." And I said, "Well, you know, let us go and we'll be off the streets immediately. We just going to go pick up this lady since we don't have any gas, maybe we won't and we'll just go home." So, ah, we were, he said, "No, we just got to get some of you folks off the street." So he put us up against the wall and, and told us to lean there with our legs outstretched and we remained there for I guess ten, fifteen minutes until a Detroit Police paddy wagon came careening around the corner. Ah, out jumped this, ah, I guess he was an officer, he had no badge, he had a police type uniform on, ah, no insignias or anything, a dark blue shirt, dark blue pants and brown army helmet askew on his head and this really wild look in his eyes. And he jumped down and he said, "Oh, so you niggers want to fight, eh?" And we all kind of looked at each other like, you know, "Where is this guy coming from?" Ah, so at that point they handcuffed us because we had just been standing there with our arms against the wall. They came out with all these pairs of handcuffs and handcuffed us and then told us to get one by one into the back of the van. As we got into the back of the police van, ah, this officer proceeded to kick the first guy, Ross Mitchell, he kicked the driver and then myself and my brother was last and my brother did a kind of little fake like he was going, got kicked at him and got off balance and he shot past him. So he didn't kick either one of us because we both did basically the same thing.


Cut. That's good, that's good.