KILLING TRAYVONS: An Anthology of American Violence. Edited by Kevin Alexander Gray, Jeffrey St. Clair and JoAnn Wypijewski. (Counterpunch Books 2014).
Do you know people who are surprised that more black men were killed by police in 2014 than died in the September 11, 2001 attacks? Do you know people who wonder why there is such fierce community anger when police kill black men? Is anyone surprised that Gallup reported 58 percent of white people have confidence in the police versus 31 percent of black people? If you know someone who does not understand the depths of the anger at the police and the legal system, do us all a favor and buy them this book.
Anyone can dip into a couple of the 60-plus articles, reports and poems in KILLING TRAYVONS and taste the rage boiling over when our deeply racist criminal legal system constantly profiles, insults, disrespects, harasses, tortures, humiliates, wrongfully incarcerates and flatly executes black men. Organized around the killing of Trayvon Martin, the authors expertly show how the events surrounding his murder, the way law enforcement and the media reacted, and the dismal response of the criminal legal system are repeatedly reenacted across our nation whenever police or scared white people confront and shoot black men.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It is helping after helping of raw anger burning at the systematic brutalization of black people. It is a deeply tragic quilt of violence, white arrogance and privilege. It contains official documents from the criminal proceedings about the killing of Trayvon Martin including the Medical Examiner's Report, the original police report, the Zimmerman polygraph report and excerpts from the closing arguments. It also details numerous other incidents of police misconduct and violence against other police officers, professional people, children, teens and women. Authors include: Rodolfo Acuna, Philip Agnew, Ajamu Baraka, Quassan Castro, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Alexander Cockburn, Rita Dove, Jordan Flaherty, Glen Ford, Amy Goodman, June Jordan, Robin D.G. Kelly, Margaret Kimberly, Chris Kromm, Vijay Prashad, Matthew Rothschild, Tara Skurtu, Etan Thomas, Cornel West, Patricia Williams, and Tim Wise.
This book went to press just as, the editors write, "the police in Ferguson Missouri have declared war on the black community." This book shows that war has been going on for decades. The blatant police murder of Walter Scott in South Carolina? In South Carolina, 34 black people were killed by police in the last five years. At least 100 unarmed black people were killed by police in 2014 alone.
Our criminal legal system does not need reform. It needs radical change. Its leaves and limbs do not need trimming. It needs to be pulled up by its roots and burned. This book helps advance that.
Every Friday, HuffPost's Culture Shift newsletter helps you figure out which books you should read, art you should check out, movies you should watch and music should listen to. Learn more