Mug Shot – James Edward Williams 1972

 Today’s mugshot is of James Edward Williams, my husband. He was arrested for driving without a license on the Wayne State University campus in March of 1972.  This mugshot was included in his ‘red file’ which included local police files and FBI information from the 1970s.  He was arrested for driving without a license often because he either lost it or forgot it.  He didn’t spend time in jail but was released either with no bail or very low bail.  After we left Detroit, it never happened again.

Mug shot

31 thoughts on “Mug Shot – James Edward Williams 1972

  1. Information-Radicals, it says. Maybe leaving his license behind was his form of silent protest.

  2. That is chilling! Granted, he shouldn’t have forgotten (?) his drivers license . . . & it does sound just a tad like maybe he didn’t want to be carrying identification at times for some reason. Still, it’s plain to see profiling was definitely playing a part there. Glad it stopped happening after you left Detroit!

    1. No, he just lost it and forgot it. He wasn’t underground or anything. He probably kept up with his drivers license after we left and he got a regular job as a printer.

  3. It sounds like he was being harassed. But I can imagine a campus cop thinking “There’s the guy who drives without a license.” The first day I was ever on the University of Minnesota campus, I got a ticket for jaywalking. I still think that was unfair.

    1. It wasn’t only the being stopped and picked up for DUL, he could.should have quit that and madee sure he had the license with him. They were also watching his movements, staking out the library and various places he went regularly due to him being a black activist.

  4. I agree that it sounds like harassment. I know few people who are stopped for a check of their driver’s license. I heard recently that by age 23, half of American’s black males have been arrested; 44% of hispanic males; 38% of white males. I guess there’s a lot of male mug shots around. Years ago a friend of mine with a wicked sense of humor used his on his Christmas card.

  5. How do you do it Kristin? You have the perfect answering post to every theme prompt. Not the usual family album stuff is it?

  6. We still see this kind of sneakiness by the Police! They were using those same kind of case# signs from the 60’s. Leave my James alone!

  7. It’s amazing how scary those mug shots can make a person look. Glad it was for something so very minor – when we holiday at the coast in the summer in NSW people with ACT number plates are rumoured to be targeted by the police.

  8. I’m impressed that you have such a photo. Did he have to apply through the Freedom of Information Act to get this “red file”? I’d like to say it was a different time but police harassment and secret dossiers still exist. Only in computer files.

    1. Mike, yes he did, they were being held by the Detroit library at the point he applied, about 5 years ago. My father got his back in the day but i have only found bits and pieces of it. We wanted to get the file for the Black Conscience Library but they wouldn’t release it. I think the files will become public about the time we reach 90.

      And yes, it still goes on.

  9. There’s nothing to like about a mug shot if one is taken of you but I particularly don’t like the sign hanging around the neck. I would find that deeply disturbing and would prefer to hold my sign.

  10. Racial profiling is still going on. Nothing seems to change. How frustrating. The thing about that report that’s so disturbing is that they called him a liar!! Why’d they say that?
    They sure were keeping an eye on him. Scary.

  11. Whoa. So your husband was able to get this file through the library? How long ago? Never leave home without your driver’s license: one lesson. Or, in the light of Ferguson, and all the others that don’t make the inter/national news, never leave home while black?

    1. About 5 years ago. I don’t know if every city stores their red files at the library. Yes, you would have thought he’d have taken that one to heart. Luckily he made it through in one piece.

  12. What a relevant and thought-provoking post! I’m a firm believer that the past can help inform discussions about the present.

  13. No he really doesn’t look happy, unsurprisingly. I’m sure it had more to do with being a radical than DUL. I’m surprised that his file was accessible so recently.

    1. They are holding all of those files. They won’t open to the public until we’re 90 or something, when we’re supposed to be dead, I guess.

      Glad he didn’t get shot to death anyway.

  14. Kristin, following on my spring-cleaning post…I noticed again last night just how clean and fresh your blog looks. I always love your header images so I wouldn’t tweak those at all…and as always your stories are insightful and interesting. Which WP theme do you use by the way? All I’d suggest, if you’re so inclined, is to add a search widget to the sidebar. I’m ambivalent about the value of the archives option when we’ve been blogging as long as we have so I took mine out and opted to go with a categories box to click on. As always these choices are very personal.

    1. I do have a search function, and I use it alot, it’s right up there under the picture of eliza giving me the ancestor approved look. I was thinking about taking out the archives option too – the search is better, I think.

      I am using twenty ten. The header pictures are smaller than those in twenty 11. If I changed, I’d have to redo all the header photos. whew! I get tired just thinking about it!

      I think I will now look into a few changes.

  15. Thanks Kristin…sorry didn’t see it…you would think I don’t use WP 😉 I must admit I use my search bar all the time on my own blog. Definitely don’t spend the time changing from 2010. I used to use it once, don’t recall why I changed.

    I think your blog is great!! Clean, fresh, informative and intelligent!

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