Interview with Roger Wilkins
QUESTION 6
INTERVIEWER:

So you're driving down Grand River--

ROGER WILKINS:

A colleague of mine and I, he was also Black, were driving up Grand River one night to find out what the level of violence was in the city when a convoy of state police cars went past the other way, and troopers yelled out at us, "Get off the street! Get off the street! There's snipers!" And we continued up the street and we're going to make a left turn onto Joy Road when all of a sudden this convoy had turned around and was, had pulled us over and we were surrounded by people screaming at us, "Get out of the car! Out of the car! Out of the car!" And normally I would have stuck my hand in my inside pocket and pulled out my credentials to prove I was from the Department of Justice. But I knew if I did that, somebody'd shoot me. So I came out of the car with my hands up and what I saw was, I was circled by people with long guns and pistols and they were all pointing at me and they were all nervous people and they were all White. And I'm a Black guy and I'm a high government official but I was a nigger, a nigger in White America, and I thought at that moment I was going to be dead, 35 years old and dead at the corner of Joy Road and Grand River. Fortunately, somebody heard me screaming, "Department of Justice! Department of Justice!" And about the time they heard me screaming they stopped pulling some other people out of a car, they were tearing their clothes and they just stopped when they knew they had Justice Department officials around. We explained who we were, and the other people explained that they, the guy was coming from work at a, at a auto plant where he was an essential worker. So they admonished us to be careful and they went away. My legs were shaking. And I got in the car and this other car drove away. It was an old White Buick and it was spewing a lot of smoke and the guy, I heard the guy yell after the troopers, "Motherfuckers!" And at that point my legs starp--stopped shaking and I returned to normal.