Friday, April 3, 2015


Jill Leovy, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times also writes a blog for the newspaper called The Homicide Report: A Story for Every Victim. In this blog she reports on the many murders committed in Los Angeles: the number and causes of murders; locations and age; ethnicity and gender of the victims. What is striking about this blog is that there is a story on each homicide—who the victim was and how the crime was committed. By reporting these stories, the many minority victims, living in minority neighborhoods, are not forgotten.

That Homicide Report blog inspired Leovy to write a new bestselling book, on the new shelves at the Monrovia Public Library, called Ghettoside. The title is borrowed from what a Watts gang member called his neighborhood. After reporting so many murders, the author shares her definite opinions on how minority neighborhoods do not have too many police officers, but too few, as so many minority murders are never solved. She says that when a justice system doesn't work, homicide becomes a plague.

What is so compelling about Ghettoside is not just Leovy’s facts and theories, but a parallel and detailed story of one murder. The victim Bryant Tennelle is the son of a Los Angeles Police detective, a quiet African American officer admired by his colleagues who lives with his happy family. The son, who is not a gang member, is walking down the street with a friend when he is shot in the head and dies. The investigating LAPD officer is an unlikely detective. A blonde surfer whose methodical and relentless investigating skills and commitment to solving local crimes, rather than getting promoted off the streets, John Skaggs turns over every clue and talks to every witness, multiple times, to track down the killer.

There is so much food for thought in this timely and heartbreaking book. Sometimes reading like a sociology book and sometimes reading like a police procedural mystery, this is a work you will want to discuss with others.

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