A poignant and skillful examination of a case that adds to the ongoing public debate about corrupt police practices, the...

SHOTS ON THE BRIDGE

POLICE VIOLENCE AND COVER-UP IN THE WAKE OF KATRINA

Associated Press investigative journalist Greene (Night Fire: Big Oil, Poison Air, and Margie Richard's Fight to Save Her Town, 2009) examines the shockingly overlooked case of police brutality that left six unarmed citizens shot during the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The city of New Orleans was drastically unprepared for the devastation of Katrina. The after-action report concluded as much, but it also exposed the environment that police, woefully understaffed and undersupplied, had to deal with in the wake of the hurricane. Exhausted from trying to maintain order and quell looting, some officers, the report documented, “who should have been decommissioned and sent for counseling were given rifles instead.” This was the situation when, as Greene describes it, officers responded to a 108 call, meaning officer’s life in danger, at Danziger Bridge. When they arrived in an unmarked rental truck, they found members of the Bartholomew family, along with friend James Brissette and brothers Lance and Ronald Madison, walking across the bridge. Without warning, the police opened fire, killing Ronald Madison and Brissette and wounding four others. However, there was no threat at the bridge; the distress call was phony. The details of the ensuing coverup—planting a gun, inventing witnesses, and conspiring to prosecute Lance Madison for attempted murder—are almost too audacious to believe, but they are further evidence of a long history of corruption in the New Orleans Police Department. Greene expertly constructs the narrative of events during the shooting and through the federal trial of the officers involved, who received sentences of up to 65 years. However, in an unprecedented decision in what the judge called “a legal odyssey unlike any other,” the ruling was overturned based on comments posted online during the case—leaving the families of this tragic event without closure.

A poignant and skillful examination of a case that adds to the ongoing public debate about corrupt police practices, the militarization of local law enforcement, and convoluted legal decisions.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8070-3350-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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