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The Gifford Street Press’s second book, I Witness: Perspectives on Policing in the Near Westside, is available now. In a collection of stories and interviews, residents and police describe their day-to-day experiences.
“This book is a powerful reminder that truly seeing reality requires looking at it from many perspectives, some of which appear to be contradictory. Like the surveillance cameras looking down from on high, the police who answer calls in the neighborhood see the residents from a distance. The film from those cameras is only viewed after the fact, in case of a crime, and likewise the police react to Westsiders when a disturbance occurs, and may be unable to distinguish between victims and perpetrators and bystanders. Neighborhood residents have had varying experiences with the police, sometimes positive but just as often tinged with mistrust or outright antagonism. Regardless of those experiences, the police are outsiders, not living in the neighborhood nor wanting to. So it would be easy to fall into a categorization of Us vs. Them. But this collection of interviews helps us refract that.”
-Introduction by the GSP editorial board
“Where are the ancestors? The people that live before us that can sit down and tell us how to be when we go out in the world? Because it’s easy not to commit crime. If you love yourself you’re not going to do something that’s going to cause any other human to have authority over you.”
“I’m walking with the first officer to go talk to some young lady based on a call, and we walk past a house and a stoop that has probably six guys on it, and at least like four of the six guys just spit off the stoop. They didn’t hit the officer or anything like that, but they spit out, and the officer just hawks up a loogey and spits it right back on their property. Nothing was said. It was that mentality and that perception of, ‘Oh, okay you’re going to spit at me, then I’ll give it right back to you.’”
“When you’re going on 15 calls a day, you’re just call-to-call. You don’t have time to just pull up on a block and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on guys? These people bothering you? What’s going on around here?’ You don’t have time to do that.”
“My wife’s got a grandson. He’s ten years old. He loves cops, you know. He’s always getting toy cop stuff. I am tempted to tell him what I think about cops, but I don’t. I believe that there’s a good chance he’ll feel the same way about cops eventually, but I’m not going to try to influence him in any kind of negative way.”