Reader’s Corner: These Cops Carry Books

The Minneapolis police department is starting something new with its community police efforts. According to the Star-Tribune:

In a partnership with Little Free Library, the department will turn a pair of its police cruisers into bookmobiles with the hope of teaching the importance of reading.

Community policing officers will carry books while they are making their rounds on the city’s North and South sides. They’ll still respond to certain emergencies, but won’t be dispatched to calls for help, freeing them up to visit neighborhoods without libraries and give away books to anyone who wants them.

But, discerning readers will ask, what kind of books will these officers be offering? A variety, it appears:

For now, available titles to be given away range from children’s books like “Camp Wildhog” and “The Box Car Children: The Yellow House Mystery” to more adult fare, including a well-thumbed unauthorized biography of Martha Stewart.

Weekend Reading: April 7, 2017

Weekend Reading: February 17, 2017

Weekend Reading: January 13, 2017

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Screening Room: ‘Do Not Resist’

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Following the Ferguson riots of 2014, there was a brief moment where the county noticed that all of a sudden, its police departments—stuffed with billions of dollars worth of military surplus and bristling with body armor, assault rifles, and make-my-day attitude—were looking more like a domestic military.

Craig Atkinson’s sober, occasionally terrifying Do Not Resist keeps the spotlight on the militarization of American police forces. It’s screening tomorrow night at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York and should be showing up around the country in more festival dates.

My review is at Eyes Wide Open:

The film starts in the tear gas-fogged streets of Ferguson, Missouri during the riots of August 2014 that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by a white police officer. As the St. Louis County police department tries to clear the streets of protestors, their body armor and gas masks, plus their hulking dark-green armored transports, turn the scene into something out of a war zone, not a Midwestern suburb…

Screening Room: ‘Cop Car’

Hays Wellford and James Freedson-Jackson have a good old time in 'Cop Car' (Focus)
Hays Wellford and James Freedson-Jackson have a good old time in ‘Cop Car’ (Focus)
Two kids come across a police cruiser in a clearing, seemingly abandoned. They’ve already run away from home, so why not one more transgression? While they joy ride across the prairie, the car’s owner, a corrupt and drug-addled sheriff (Kevin Bacon) who’s just buried a man is coming after them.

Cop Car is playing now. My review is at PopMatters.

Here’s the trailer:

New in Books: ‘Ghettoside’ and the Murder Plague

ghettoside-coverOne of the most surprising entries on the nonfiction bestseller lists now, in between all the diet and self-help and comedy tell-alls and breathless Bill O’Reilly assassination tomes, is Jill Leovy’s gritty Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America. It’s a true-crime potboiler and an X-Ray of a dysfunctioning city and a cry for help all at once. Her writing is sharp, her reporting true.

Ghettoside is on sale now and is very worth your seeking out. My review is at PopMatters:

As the Los Angeles Timereporter who created the newspaper’s blog, The Homicide Report, Jill Leovy understands all too well the numbing cycle of violence that typifies most poor minority neighborhoods in America. The Homicide Report was simple in concept but gargantuan in practice: Cover every murder in Los Angeles. That meant finding out who was killed, who they were, how it happened, and if possible why. By the time the blog started in 2007, the country’s early-‘90s homicide peak had passed, but the murders kept coming. Each one was a story; another human life gone, and a space that couldn’t be filled left behind…

Department of Weekend Reading: January 16, 2015

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Department of Weekend Reading: August 29, 2014

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New in Theaters: ’12 O’Clock Boys’

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’12 O’Clock Boys’: Today, We Ride

12-o-clock-boys-posterEvery so often in Baltimore, swarms of teenagers and twentysomethings will come swarming through an intersection, doing paralysis-defying tricks on their bikes or four-wheelers. They’re called “12 O’Clock Boys,” and they’re the subject of an interesting new documentary about hope (or the lack of it) and fantasy in the inner cities.

12 O’Clock Boys opens in limited release this week after playing the festival doc circuit. My review is at Film Journal International:

…Their name comes from a signature move where a rider pops a wheelie so high that the front wheel goes straight up like an hour hand on a clock pointing to twelve. It supplies phenomenal footage for local news shows, confuses many of the drivers and pedestrians they’re swarming past, thrills some bystanders, and infuriates others. “What are we doing about these little scumbags?” shouts a talk-radio caller. Over the three years that director Lofty Nathan follows his young protagonist, Pug, his enraptured camera witnesses one all-consuming emotion: Pug wants nothing more than to be a 12 O’Clock Boy. The film feeds off his enthusiasm…

Here’s the trailer: