Yesterday evening I drove downtown to visit Roosevelt University to catch the Chicago stop of Radley Balko’s tour for his book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.
Radley’s presentation is pretty interesting, although not of course as in-depth as the book itself. He starts with a clip from the Columbia SWAT raid that brought so much national attention to the issue, and illustrates the rest of his presentation with a series of slides, some of which will be familiar to his regular readers (Sheriff Leon Lott makes an appearance, and we had a rousing game of Cop Or Soldier). If Radley comes to your area, it’s worth your time.
This was followed by an hour-long panel discussion which included representatives from several of the local organizations that sponsored his visit. The subject was broader than just police militarization — straying into police brutality, the general occupation of minority communities by police, what to do about it politically, and as any discussion of policing in Chicago must, the crimes of Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.
Panel members, from left to right:
- Radley Balko, Huffington Post Senior Writer and Investigative Reporter
- Marco Roc, Illinois Campaign to End the New Jim Crow
- Crista Noel, Women’s All Points Bulletin
- Gregory Malandrucco, Chicago Alliance against Racist & Political Repression
- Joey Mogul, People’s Law Office
The event was also sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union Illinois, the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice & Transformation (Roosevelt University), the National Lawyers Guild (Chicago), Project NIA, and TruthOut.
I’ve been following Radley since shortly after I started blogging. (I met him once before in 2008.) During those early years, he was only a couple of rungs above me in the blogosphere — just another one of the libertarian voices on the web. Of course, even then he was much more of a professional than I was: He actually got out and reported stories. So seeing Radley now as a professional national journalist on his own book tour makes me proud as hell for him. I didn’t have anything to do with it, of course, but it’s like one of the guys from my old neighborhood got out and done good. The kid made a name for himself.
When I congratulated him on his success, Radley mentioned that he wished the book was selling a little better. Isn’t that always the way? Here he’s gone from being a solo blogger to a full-time professional journalist (at time when news outlets are doing massive layoffs), the L.A. Press Club named him Journalist of the Year in 2011, his work has been cited by the Supreme Court, he’s got his book out (ranked #2239 at Amazon today), he’s doing television appearances, he’s got another gig where musicians do live performances from his couch, and still…eh, book sales are a little soft…
Anyway, Radley was doing book signings, but I had already purchased Rise of the Warrior Cop as an eBook, and I wasn’t about to buy a hardcover copy just so he could sign it. So this was the best I could come up with:
If you haven’t done so already, get out there and buy your own copy of Rise of the Warrior Cop. Make Radley feel more successful!