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They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  2,333 ratings  ·  351 reviews
A deeply reported book that brings alive the quest for justice in the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray, offering both unparalleled insight into the reality of police violence in America and an intimate, moving portrait of those working to end it

Conducting hundreds of interviews during the course of over one year reporting on the ground, Washington Post
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 15th 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
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James I agree! If the police would obey the law, act civilized and stop dodging responsibility (especially by playing the old race card) things would indeed…moreI agree! If the police would obey the law, act civilized and stop dodging responsibility (especially by playing the old race card) things would indeed improve dramatically!

We live in a country made up of 72% white and 13% black. Drug usage rates are the same between whites and blacks, but blacks are arrested at rates 3 times higher. Marijuana use between blacks and whites is again the same, but blacks are 4 times more likely to be arrested. Every year New York used "stop and frisk" more than half of those stopped were black (and each year VAST majority were innocent, law abiding citizens). Across America blacks are more likley to be pulled over than whites in traffic stops. In Conneticut a study found that whites are twice as likely to have contraband in their vehicles, but blacks have their vehicles searched twice as often. Nationwide the rate is 3 to 1. Blacks are more likely to arrested during a traffic stop, while whites are the most likely to get a written warning or a verbal warning. An alarming study in North Carolina found that blacks were pulled over less often during the night when officers were unable to determine the race of the driver.

What you described in your "question" is offensive. That might make a difference in YOUR interactions with police, but in our society it hasn't made a difference for other races. If you'd rather not see the "race card" played focus your efforts on making sure the police aren't so clearly and obviously using race in their policing.(less)
James First, there are a few problems with this question. I can find absolutely no data to backup such an absurdly high number as you have mentioned. Accord…moreFirst, there are a few problems with this question. I can find absolutely no data to backup such an absurdly high number as you have mentioned. According to the FBI data in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) in 2015 there were 13,455 total victims of murder nationwide. If black on black killings were "something like 8,000 a month, nationwide", those murders alone would add up to 96,000. That's an increase of over 7 times the actual murder rate for all races combined.

Second, and perhaps more important, your question seems to imply that we as a society can only focus on one task at a time. We cannot ignore troubling evidence of racism in our government or our society simply because there are other problems as well. Just as we don't abandon cancer research because heart disease is the leading cause of death. Further, these two issues are actually very closely related upon closer inspection. The way a government and society treats a group of people has a direct effect on statistics like violent crime and murder.

At first, statistically, it does appear there is some truth to this issue. Blacks are far more likely to kill blacks (approx 90%), and whites are far more likely to kill whites (approx 83%). Also it is true that murder rates appear disproportionately higher in blacks than in whites (52% vs 45%). But it isn't as simple as that.

When you control for various factors like poverty, unemployment, education, social capital and income inequality those higher murder rates drop. All of those issues lead to an increase in violent crime and murder. Statistically most blacks suffer from issues related to poverty, most whites do not and those who do often don't suffer to the same degree. Whites statistically and on average are doing much better in our society and blacks are again on average doing much worse. The median net worth for households in 2013, for whites $141,900, for blacks $11,000. When you compare the whites with similar rates of poverty the rates of violent crime appear to balance out.

Consider why we might want to do something about obvious racism in the government police force. I've already posted a brief run down on several examples of racial discrimination in policing in other posts. Drug arrests are 4 times higher for blacks despite equal drug usage with whites. Blacks are more often searched and detained during traffic stops despite research showing white drivers are more likely to carry contraband. Blacks are more likely to be stopped by police, detained by police, fined by police and arrested by police. We've seen evidence of entire police departments and court systems focusing on efforts to ticket and fine low income blacks. We've even seen a man stopped by police 258 times for "trespassing" at his job. Now imagine what impact that incredible disparity actually has to an already struggling minority population.

You are correct that the shooting of unarmed black boys and men by a police force that appears to be targeting them based on their race isn't the entire problem. I don't think many people believe that is the case, certainly not those passionate about this issue. We have a long way to go and I believe it starts with openly and honestly acknowledging the issue and taking responsibility for what centuries of systemic racism has and is still creating.(less)

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Emma
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars

I've been thinking about this review for some time; I have so many jumbled thoughts about the book, the author, and the subject matter that i'm finding it hard to know where to start or even what I want to say.

Is it important to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement? Absolutely yes. Is Wesley Lowery the right person to do it? Yes. And maybe no. He was intertwined with the various investigations and popular responses from the start, even getting arrested himself for little more than
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Trish
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
In his Acknowledgments, Wesley Lowery calls the victims of racial violence "Rorschach tests in a divided nation’s debate of race and justice." That seems a particularly appropriate choice of metaphor in light of the criticisms from some portion of our populace about the movements that have sprung up to protest police violence against black citizens. What do you see when you are shown an unarmed black man splayed and bloody on a city street, in a park, in a car, shot by police fire?

With all the
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Kaitlin
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-2017
This book is a short but vital description of many of the key incidents that led to the movement of #BlackLivesMatter becoming a national and internationally recognised theme. It's a non-fiction, personal account of Lowery, a reporter for the Washington Post, who covered many of the police shootings post-Ferguson in America, particularly focused on the ones where protests were sparked.

For me, this was a great read becuase it introduced and solidified the topic well. It's largely focused on raci
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Erica
The bitter taste of injustice is intoxicating on the tongue of a traumatized people. (p. 59)

Disclaimer: I am a white, female, middle-class, middle-aged, overly educated librarian in a wealthy, predominantly-white area. I am many degrees removed from the topic at hand, following it only from a distance across social media. I definitely read this book with a bias which shows in my review.

I've come to understand that I enjoy investigative journalism more than stories from on-the-ground reporters. I
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Elizabeth
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
... One day, one month, one year from now, after you leave, it's still going to be fucked up in Ferguson...

as a print reporter for the washington post Wesley Lowery has written an extensively researched book about shooting (after shooting, after shooting...) of black men by the police during 2014 & 2015. but it is not only about death- it is also an accounting of the beginnings of a movement & an informed look at those who are working to prevent police violence. Wesley Lowery interviews the fam
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Tonstant Weader
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: activism
Journalists try not to become part of the stories they cover. That choice was taken from Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery when police arrested him and Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly as they worked on their stories at the McDonald’s in Ferguson where protests had broken out after the killing of Michael Brown. Since then, Lowery has been on the black death beat, from Michael Brown to Tamir Rice to Freddie Gray and on and on. They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in Americ ...more
Rebecca
I read this to learn more about Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement, and in that sense the book fulfilled its purpose, though I’m not sure I gleaned anything I couldn’t have just by paying more attention to contemporary news coverage. Still, it’s interesting to get a young black reporter’s perspective on the recent spate of police shootings – “few things move as slowly, under such a unique cloak of darkness, as an investigation into an officer-involved shooting.”
Rachel León
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
This book should be listed on essential reading lists. Lowery discusses the killing of Michael Brown and other unarmed African-Americans who died at the hands of police. Lowery is a journalist who covered the situation in Ferguson and Baltimore and through a journalistic lens, he examines the need for the Black Lives Matter movement. It's a powerful and important book.
Montzalee Wittmann
They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery is an audible book I got from the library. I live in a few counties away from St. Louis and the reputation of the police dept racist actions have always been known to everyone in all the surrounding counties. All the major family activities are in St. Louis such as museums, zoos, and such so everyone, white or black are careful. But if you are of color or different: wear dreadlocks, d ...more
Katie
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
4.5*
A difficult, enlightening and worthwhile read
Hanna
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picked up this book to understand more about the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests held in the U.S.

It's an incredibly insightful read for me. A lot of times I found myself unable to read more than a chapter a day because of how heavy the topic is and the number of police killings is just horrifying. If reading about it is getting me down, I can't imagine what those who were directly affected by the killings are going through.

Here is one of the paragraphs from this book I highlighted;

.
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Esther | lifebyesther
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poc, nonfiction
GENERAL:
- written by the Washington Post reporter who covered and was arrested in Ferguson
- extremely topical and relevant and compelling
- Everyone in America has to read this.

LIKES:
- the idea of citizen reporters, especially with the rise of social media, is so compelling.
- even though it was written with a lot of pathos and is really rhetorically charged, it doesn't feel like a rant. It's impressive how he struck a balance between urgency and raving.
- it was so well written, I didn't want to
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shakespeareandspice
Abandoned 1/3 of the way into the book.

What I wanted: a look at why did #BlackLivesMatter emerge when it did. Was a movement such as this always in our future? What does BLM stand for? What does it seek to do? Basically a book about the movement as a whole in our history.

What I got: a journalist recounting cases that dealt with racial inequality.

In the end, you can either read this book or pay attention to the news.
Walter
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This enthralling account of the deaths of so many (virtually exclusively unarmed) Black men and women at the hands of police and the development of the Movement for Black Lives that has sprung from it is a major contribution to our ability to contextualize and then actualize a constructive and effective response to a major societal challenge. And Wesley Lowery is a gifted narrative writer whose prose is as evocative as it is lyrically beautiful, so much so that there are moments when I had ...more
Brian Hickey
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
#blacklivesmatter - 'It's a modern iteration of a struggle that has existed for hundreds of years.'

When it comes to race and issues related to racial inequality, it's evident that America is a divided nation. Because of this, we've been blessed with some of the best pieces of writing around the subject of social justice. Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow is widely considered as a tour de force and the best explanation of the US's mass incarceration of young black men. Yaa Gyasi's phenomenal
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Julie
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
I read this because I wanted to find out more about the origins of the Black Lives Matter movement. Unfortunately, what I read was an uncritical glowing paean to people involved in the movement and others regardless of their actions and/or credibility.

I did enjoy reading the parts about how some of the women got started in the movement and about the young black female newspaper reporter working to make her mark. Those character studies were interesting, and I wish the book had focused more on th
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David Anderson
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
My attention was drawn to this book by the excellent review in The Nation, "Origins of a Movement" by  Nathalie Baptiste. Well worth reading, I provide a link to it online below in lieu of a personal review. But I do want to make a couple of comments about what this book is NOT, as well as what it is, because of some of the comments I've seen in the few middling-to-negative reviews I've seen here on Goodreads and a few of the more exuberant positive ones. This book does not provide a deeply re ...more
Jordan Shirkman
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
First, an acknowledgment: I know Wes from our time at Ohio University together and have a huge amount of respect for him personally. His achievements as guy in his mid twenties is shocking. But this isn't a glowing review just because of that.

Wes feels like the perfect person to tell this story. He's been entwined in this movement professionally and personally since Ferguson and can share insights as a black man growing up in America.

He connects the dots from heartbreaking death to death, prot
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Elaine Mullane || At Home in Books
I have always had an interest in African-American writing (my MA thesis was on African-American Women's Writing and the theme of Magical Realism) and on African-American history and politics, so when I was offered an ARC of this book I immediately took it.

Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery spent over a year on the ground in Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina and Maryland reporting on police violence in America and the quest for justice in the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray. T
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Caris Adel
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Really good overview of the last couple of years. It was nice getting to know more info/bios behind some of the more well-known activists. If someone is looking for a good overview of how the BLM came to be and summaries of the high-profile killings/protests, this is a good one.
Joseph Stieb
Mar 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Listened to this book because I saw Wes Lowery on a Frontline and I thought he was really insightful. Young Wes is obviously an incredibly impressive guy. However, this book lacks the depth and research that could have made this book a major contribution to our understanding of race and policing. It seems like something he may have cobbled together in a few months on the side of his reporting. It is mostly his accounts of being at the protests and meeting with young activists.

There are still goo
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Sabine
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement and its origin. So from this point of view the book definitely fulfilled its purpose.
Bookworm
Nov 23, 2016 rated it liked it
A good read that puts recent events in context. Wesley Lowery may not be a household name to you but he is the reporter at the Washington Post that unexpectedly became the story during the Ferguson protests, along with Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly. There had been accusations that the national media didn't care until "their own" had been caught up (plus fellow reporters and media people reported this as well) in the net. This arrest along with the other events of Ferguson would take Lower ...more
Andre
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
A worthy recap of some of the more recent and prominent shootings of young Black men. Starting with Michael Brown and his covering of this murder as a reporter for The Washington Post. He was one of the reporters arrested for not moving fast enough out of the McDonald's in Ferguson, which many reporters were using as an impromptu newsroom.

Although any one who follows the news regularly will have some familiarity with these fatal police encounters, what Wesley adds for the readers is some backgr
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Tracey S
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was sent this book from the publisher –Penguin Random House– via Netgalley in return for an honest review. It’s release date was 26th of January 2017.

Wesley Lowery is a national reporter for the Washington Post, and he found himself the lead reporter in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th 2014 covering the killing of unarmed black youth Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson and therefore unknowingly witnessing the birth of the #BlackLivesMatter social movement. Lowery sets out this
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Mary Adeson
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was completely naïve to the Black Live Matters movement. I assumed the first protests erupted during the summer of 2016, which was the period of the UK coverage and when the UK showed solidarity by coordinating the London protests.

This is an insightful book which pieces together the movement from its beginning to 2016; identifies the key players/leaders and touches briefly on some of policies being implemented to reform the police and attempts to provide stats on the lives lost at the hands o
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Laura
Nov 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
I wasn't impressed with this book. And that made me mad because I was so excited to read it. If you've stayed up to date on the police shootings of black men in America, there's no point in reading this. It just rehashes what you probably already know and have read. I was really disappointed. I expected more from this book. I'm a huge BLM supporter but this was actually really hard for me to keep reading because it just didn't keep me interested since it was all regurgitated material from the ne ...more
Ashley
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure who the target audience for this book is. It's certainly not Black millennials who were and have been on the ground, so to speak, for each event narrated in this book. It came across as an encyclopedia of events starting in Ferguson and a who's who of various people tangentially involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. Save it unless you're unfamiliar with the racially charged events since 2014.
Meghan
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I expected this book to read like Evicted or Missoula or Ghettoside, books on a particular theme combining research, reportage and anecdotes. They Can't Kill Us All reads more like a journalism/activism memoir that extends into those other categories. For those who have followed the police brutality stories of the last several years and the Black Lives Matter movement, the content won't be new or shocking. Nevertheless, being steeped in these stories literally gave me nightmares.
Gina
Think you know what happened in Ferguson? Think you understand Black Lives Matter? This book will open your eyes.
"Why must a black man or woman's death be captured on video, and played on a loop on cable news, for us to finally give credence to decades of declarations by black Americans that they were being brutalized by the police?"
A must read for all.
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“And by focusing on the character of the victim, we inadvertently take the focus off the powerful and instead train our eyes and judgment on the powerless.” 5 likes
“Ferguson would birth a movement and set the nation on a course for a still-ongoing public hearing on race that stretched far past the killing of unarmed residents--from daily policing to Confederate imagery to respectability politics to cultural appropriation. The social justice movement spawned from Mike Brown's blood would force city after city to grapple with its own fraught histories of race and policing.” 1 likes
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