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What began in spring 2020 as local protests in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police quickly exploded into a massive nationwide movement. Millions of mostly young people defiantly flooded into the nation’s streets, demanding an end to police brutality and to the broader, systemic repression of Black people and other people of color. To many observer What began in spring 2020 as local protests in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police quickly exploded into a massive nationwide movement. Millions of mostly young people defiantly flooded into the nation’s streets, demanding an end to police brutality and to the broader, systemic repression of Black people and other people of color. To many observers, the protests appeared to be without precedent in their scale and persistence. Yet, as the acclaimed historian Elizabeth Hinton demonstrates in America on Fire, the events of 2020 had clear precursors—and any attempt to understand our current crisis requires a reckoning with the recent past. Even in the aftermath of Donald Trump, many Americans consider the decades since the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s as a story of progress toward greater inclusiveness and equality. Hinton’s sweeping narrative uncovers an altogether different history, taking us on a troubling journey from Detroit in 1967 and Miami in 1980 to Los Angeles in 1992 and beyond to chart the persistence of structural racism and one of its primary consequences, the so-called urban riot. Hinton offers a critical corrective: the word riot was nothing less than a racist trope applied to events that can only be properly understood as rebellions—explosions of collective resistance to an unequal and violent order. As she suggests, if rebellion and the conditions that precipitated it never disappeared, the optimistic story of a post–Jim Crow United States no longer holds. Black rebellion, America on Fire powerfully illustrates, was born in response to poverty and exclusion, but most immediately in reaction to police violence. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson launched the “War on Crime,” sending militarized police forces into impoverished Black neighborhoods. Facing increasing surveillance and brutality, residents threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at officers, plundered local businesses, and vandalized exploitative institutions. Hinton draws on exclusive sources to uncover a previously hidden geography of violence in smaller American cities, from York, Pennsylvania, to Cairo, Illinois, to Stockton, California. The central lesson from these eruptions—that police violence invariably leads to community violence—continues to escape policymakers, who respond by further criminalizing entire groups instead of addressing underlying socioeconomic causes. The results are the hugely expanded policing and prison regimes that shape the lives of so many Americans today. Presenting a new framework for understanding our nation’s enduring strife, America on Fire is also a warning: rebellions will surely continue unless police are no longer called on to manage the consequences of dismal conditions beyond their control, and until an oppressive system is finally remade on the principles of justice and equality.


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What began in spring 2020 as local protests in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police quickly exploded into a massive nationwide movement. Millions of mostly young people defiantly flooded into the nation’s streets, demanding an end to police brutality and to the broader, systemic repression of Black people and other people of color. To many observer What began in spring 2020 as local protests in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police quickly exploded into a massive nationwide movement. Millions of mostly young people defiantly flooded into the nation’s streets, demanding an end to police brutality and to the broader, systemic repression of Black people and other people of color. To many observers, the protests appeared to be without precedent in their scale and persistence. Yet, as the acclaimed historian Elizabeth Hinton demonstrates in America on Fire, the events of 2020 had clear precursors—and any attempt to understand our current crisis requires a reckoning with the recent past. Even in the aftermath of Donald Trump, many Americans consider the decades since the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s as a story of progress toward greater inclusiveness and equality. Hinton’s sweeping narrative uncovers an altogether different history, taking us on a troubling journey from Detroit in 1967 and Miami in 1980 to Los Angeles in 1992 and beyond to chart the persistence of structural racism and one of its primary consequences, the so-called urban riot. Hinton offers a critical corrective: the word riot was nothing less than a racist trope applied to events that can only be properly understood as rebellions—explosions of collective resistance to an unequal and violent order. As she suggests, if rebellion and the conditions that precipitated it never disappeared, the optimistic story of a post–Jim Crow United States no longer holds. Black rebellion, America on Fire powerfully illustrates, was born in response to poverty and exclusion, but most immediately in reaction to police violence. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson launched the “War on Crime,” sending militarized police forces into impoverished Black neighborhoods. Facing increasing surveillance and brutality, residents threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at officers, plundered local businesses, and vandalized exploitative institutions. Hinton draws on exclusive sources to uncover a previously hidden geography of violence in smaller American cities, from York, Pennsylvania, to Cairo, Illinois, to Stockton, California. The central lesson from these eruptions—that police violence invariably leads to community violence—continues to escape policymakers, who respond by further criminalizing entire groups instead of addressing underlying socioeconomic causes. The results are the hugely expanded policing and prison regimes that shape the lives of so many Americans today. Presenting a new framework for understanding our nation’s enduring strife, America on Fire is also a warning: rebellions will surely continue unless police are no longer called on to manage the consequences of dismal conditions beyond their control, and until an oppressive system is finally remade on the principles of justice and equality.

30 review for America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Shepherd

    “What did you expect? I don’t know why we’re so surprised. When you put your foot on a man’s neck and hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let him up, what’s he going to do? He’s going to knock your block off.” ~Lyndon B. Johnson, commenting on the riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, 1968 In 1968, under then President Lyndon Johnson, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly referred to as the Kerner Commission, apprised government of “What did you expect? I don’t know why we’re so surprised. When you put your foot on a man’s neck and hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let him up, what’s he going to do? He’s going to knock your block off.” ~Lyndon B. Johnson, commenting on the riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, 1968 In 1968, under then President Lyndon Johnson, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, commonly referred to as the Kerner Commission, apprised government officials and lawmakers that any prospect of racial equity in America would be solely dependent on investment. The commission warned that, without the financial wherewithal, black communities were destined for a continuous and perpetual cycle of racial inequity. “…time and time again, the decision was made to pursue a set of policies that were self-defeating at best, and grievously harmful at worst.” Elizabeth Hinton’s ‘America On Fire’ is a hard but crucially necessary lesson in American history. Spanning some sixty years, from 1960 to 2020, Hinton chronicles the repetitious political ineptitude of U.S. race relations. 1960s/1970s: Often under laws and ordinances that would never have been enforced in white communities (“fitting the description,” gathering in groups of two or more, “responding to a tip,” etc.), American cities and townships established an incarceration pipeline for black citizens via a recurring pattern of over-policing. Hinton lays out the pattern: White over-policing breeds Black animosity. Black animosity generates Black grievances. Black grievances are met with White indifference. White indifference fuels Black rebellion. Black rebellion is countered with White retaliation. White retaliation results in Black people dying. Black people dying leads to (with no eye witnesses) White police officer exoneration, or (with lots of eye witnesses) White police officer acquittal. All of this leads to continued over-policing of Black communities and the cycle begins again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. “Now we know where we stand… and it’s at the bottom. We will act accordingly…” ~Horace B. Livingston Jr, Decatur Association for Black Action, 1968 An exhaustive analysis of every Black rebellion in America would have required volumes and volumes (in her notes Hinton references over 2,000 separate demonstrations, uprisings and outright revolts). Mercifully, no doubt in the interest of brevity and sanity, Hinton has limited AOF to a mere 382 pages - just enough to give her readers a sense of the enormity of the problem. Solutions? Hinton makes it abundantly clear that the solution has been with us all along. Starting with Johnson’s Kerner Commission, the recommendations were there. We cannot invest a pittance in the communities and then roll barrels of cash into policing and prisons and expect conditions to improve. History has shown (see the notes for over 2,000 examples) that American leadership, read ‘majority white political leadership,’ has had its head up its proverbial ass for fifty+ years (and counting). _________________________________________ The 1968 Kerner Commission Got It Right, But Nobody Listened https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smiths...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    amazing

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ekul

    This book was received as an ARC by the publisher on NetGalley. After the widespread upheavals of the past summer—which appear that they will continue this summer after the police shootings of the young Adam Toledo of Chicago and Daunte Wright of Minneapolis, potentially alongside the jury’s decision on the trial of Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd in broad daylight last May—I became increasingly curious about both anti-black racism and police violence. Then, while looking at upcoming books This book was received as an ARC by the publisher on NetGalley. After the widespread upheavals of the past summer—which appear that they will continue this summer after the police shootings of the young Adam Toledo of Chicago and Daunte Wright of Minneapolis, potentially alongside the jury’s decision on the trial of Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd in broad daylight last May—I became increasingly curious about both anti-black racism and police violence. Then, while looking at upcoming books on NetGalley, I found this fascinating work by expert Elizabeth Hinton. The primary intervention made by Hinton throughout this text is the rebranding of “riots” by African Americans as “rebellions,” against ham-fisted policing, terrible social conditions, and the refusal by white communities—both among political elites and private citizens—to take their concerns seriously. In doing so, Hinton divides her books into two parts: Part 1 traces the anatomy of a number of rebellions in the immediate aftermath of the 1960s’ Civil Rights Movement. Most studies end their examinations of black rebellion with the events following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., instead choosing to view the period that followed as something new. In looking at this period, she gives special attention to small- and medium-sized cities like Cairo, Illinois and York, Pennsylvania, which tend to escape the scrutiny given to cities like Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and more. Ultimately, she argues that a “cycle of violence” was created by authoritarian policing tactics, which pushed black residents to openly rebel (or “riot,” in traditional parlance), which the police would respond to with even heavier measures. The reason that rebellions began to die out in the mid-late 1970s was because black residents came to, at least temporarily, accept the “new normal.” In tracing these rebellions, Hinton does not shy away from grisly details, including those that could ostensibly make those rebelling appear bad. Instead, she is consistent in her analysis and she is undoubtedly right that these rebellions are the fault of the state, which initiated these measures, and white private citizens who, at times, responded with brutality, but more often ignored anti-black racism, claiming that it was something imagined by African Americans. Part 2 looks at three more recent rebellions: the 1980 Miami “Riots,” which had their origins in Liberty City and Overtown; the 1992 Rodney King “Riots,” which occurred when police officers were acquitted, despite police brutality being filmed; and the 2001 Cincinnati “Riots,” which was started by the police shooting of Timothy Thomas and centered social inequalities in the city, especially the disparity between Over-the-Rhine and wealthier communities. Additionally, Hinton looks at the truce between Los Angeles’s Crips and Bloods, essentially concurrent with the Rodney King rebellion, and argues that the truce failed because state forces—especially the police—did not have faith that the truce would last, and therefore actually escalated their tactics, believing that the truce was engineered out of anti-police sentiment. While the details of all these rebellions are grisly, Hinton does an excellent job of putting together a cohesive narrative, finding that all these rebellions had essentially the same origins. I was particularly interested in the case of Cairo, Illinois, which felt simultaneously reflective of my upbringing in Illinois, and utterly distant. I think the “distance” must come from a point of privilege. The most interesting chapter to me was the one on the Crips and Bloods, as Hinton’s examination of the successes of both gangs is well-thought, compelling, and utterly fascinating. The only major weakness that I felt the book had was the amount of material in the first half of the book. Most of the text is in Part 1, and the comparison of multiple rebellions within the same chapter made it difficult to figure out what exactly Hinton was trying to say. At the same time, the book would have benefited from a closer analysis of later rebellions to draw a thread through all of them. However, this critique, by no means, changes the way I see the text, and this is a must-read for all interested in the continuing rebellions of the past year or two.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    This is a vital book to help put the last year-plus of protests and Black Lives Matter activism in context. A lot of the discussions we've been having about the role of the police in the U.S., we already had in the 1960s and 1970s—and it's worthwhile seeing what the results were so we don't repeat them, as we (slowly, and haltingly) try to build a better America. I had never heard of most of the incidents described in the book (the unrest in L.A. after the acquittal of the officers who beat Rodn This is a vital book to help put the last year-plus of protests and Black Lives Matter activism in context. A lot of the discussions we've been having about the role of the police in the U.S., we already had in the 1960s and 1970s—and it's worthwhile seeing what the results were so we don't repeat them, as we (slowly, and haltingly) try to build a better America. I had never heard of most of the incidents described in the book (the unrest in L.A. after the acquittal of the officers who beat Rodney King being the exception), and I think there's a reason the common narrative around police protests has been disappeared like this. It's convenient to pretend that we've never been here, when we could learn from our past mistakes and do better.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    Received as a digital advance readers copy from Edelweiss. Hinton traces the history of rebellions in the face of police and white citizen violence against black populations. The cycle is familiar. Protest, Commissions give recommendations, and then nothing is enforced and things settle until the next death brings more protests and the cycle repeats. The introduction and first few chapters are a bit fragmented but it quickly comes together.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scott Pomfret

    America on Fire is a strange but ambitious book. Hinton uses a great deal of anecdotal material from archives and contemporary accounts to track violent interactions between police and people of color from the 1960s to the present. Her main conceit or thesis is that the violent uprisings of Black people in the late 1960s and early 1970s generally referred to as "riots" in popular parlance should actually be understood as "rebellions," insofar as they were driven by political motives and ambitions America on Fire is a strange but ambitious book. Hinton uses a great deal of anecdotal material from archives and contemporary accounts to track violent interactions between police and people of color from the 1960s to the present. Her main conceit or thesis is that the violent uprisings of Black people in the late 1960s and early 1970s generally referred to as "riots" in popular parlance should actually be understood as "rebellions," insofar as they were driven by political motives and ambitions. But it’s not clear what the redefinition of riot to rebellion is supposed to portend, except that the author predicts further rebellions in the absence of addressing what a thousand civil rights commissions have identified as the root causes (lower quality or lack of housing, education, jobs, etc. for Black communities). So we call them rebellions--so what? I think the point is that riots are criminal in nature and need a police response, whereas rebellions demand a political response involving more than just law and order. Hinton did not convince me that the nomenclature change on which she insists is meaningful. A secondary thesis is that overpolicing exacerbates if not actually causes violence. For this thesis, Hinton does produce some evidence, and yet the tragedy she best illustrates is the fact that the failure of nearly every community to use a strategy other than escalation and overpolicing leaves us all without a basis of comparison to see how things might have been had the root causes been addressed instead. There are some mis-steps. For example, after introducing the thesis that the police cause violence, her first anecdotal example is the people being policed initiating violence with rock-throwing. Also, Hinton seems to dismiss the importance of police being available to address fist fights, low level theft, and domestic violence. The community should address these issues, she suggests, but doesn’t offer mechanisms for doing so, nor does she address what happens if the "community" is overrun by bad actors or perpetrators or others less interested in addressing these conflicts. To whom are victims of these crimes to appeal? With her focus on some of the "rebellions" in smaller cities and not just the more famous big city violence, Hinton very clearly makes one key point over and over: the nation has vastly over-invested in police and under-invested in developing community, jobs, and education--and we continue to do so today. This dynamic is laid out in nauseating detail.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Law

    A perfect book to read alongside or just after reading Isabel Wilkerson's Caste. A perfect book to read alongside or just after reading Isabel Wilkerson's Caste.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Willie Kirschner

    This is an excellent book reminding us that despite the protests and Commissions that have been appointed to investigate them from the 60’s to today, very little has been done to fix the underlying conditions which have led to these acts of rebellion. Instead, our country and it’s police and political leaders have reacted with force and violence which has only made the situation worse and has created even more violence and given us a huge problem of systemic racism and over incarceration. Ms. Hi This is an excellent book reminding us that despite the protests and Commissions that have been appointed to investigate them from the 60’s to today, very little has been done to fix the underlying conditions which have led to these acts of rebellion. Instead, our country and it’s police and political leaders have reacted with force and violence which has only made the situation worse and has created even more violence and given us a huge problem of systemic racism and over incarceration. Ms. Hinton does a good job making her point and reminds those of us who have demonstrated and acted for a more humane society that the struggle continues and is a long way from being solved,

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kama

    I think NWA put it best.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Hinton uses the word "rebellion" to describe many incidents which are at their heart little more than anarchic lawlessness - they just happen to have been committed by black Americans with the protections of what liberal "wokeness" that has been woven into the story. I probably ought to look into what the Dept of Justice has to say in its policy documents about sedition and rebellion and then follow where the story goes over the next few years. I suspect that even few Black Americans really want Hinton uses the word "rebellion" to describe many incidents which are at their heart little more than anarchic lawlessness - they just happen to have been committed by black Americans with the protections of what liberal "wokeness" that has been woven into the story. I probably ought to look into what the Dept of Justice has to say in its policy documents about sedition and rebellion and then follow where the story goes over the next few years. I suspect that even few Black Americans really want their efforts lumped into the rebellion column - they've stuck with liberty and freedom long enough to appreciate what has come to us by way of Western civilization that giving it all up might be a "bridge too far." If I'm wrong I shall likely go to my grave bemoaning all we've lost in the last generation. Have the police taken liberties to which they are not entitled? Clearly! But we likely ought not throw out the Western baby with the anarchist bath water - if you catch my drift.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John Wood

    This extensive history of the pervasive racism embedded in white society, especially the police departments, sheds glaring light on how deep the problem runs. The deliberate harassment and murdering of African Americans, the repressive living conditions, and abject poverty and inequality of all aspects of society really leaves no choice but rebellion, retaliation, and looting. This is an excellent book and has given me a clearer revelation of the history of racism throughout American history. We This extensive history of the pervasive racism embedded in white society, especially the police departments, sheds glaring light on how deep the problem runs. The deliberate harassment and murdering of African Americans, the repressive living conditions, and abject poverty and inequality of all aspects of society really leaves no choice but rebellion, retaliation, and looting. This is an excellent book and has given me a clearer revelation of the history of racism throughout American history. We continue to make very little progress and that this problem is not going away anytime soon. The more knowledge every person can get and the willingness to keep an open mind is the first tiny baby step in making any progress.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Viola

    America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s (Published by Liveright) - by Elizabeth Hinton (Author, Yale University, Yale Law School) ISBN: 978-1-63149-890-9 288 pages “From one of our top historians, a groundbreaking story of policing and “riots” that shatters our understanding of the post–civil rights era. As the “War on Crime” targeted American cities from the late 1960s onward, Black residents threw punches and Molotov cocktails at police officers, America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s (Published by Liveright) - by Elizabeth Hinton (Author, Yale University, Yale Law School) ISBN: 978-1-63149-890-9 288 pages “From one of our top historians, a groundbreaking story of policing and “riots” that shatters our understanding of the post–civil rights era. As the “War on Crime” targeted American cities from the late 1960s onward, Black residents threw punches and Molotov cocktails at police officers, plundered local businesses, and vandalized exploitative institutions. Drawing on new sources, Elizabeth Hinton reveals that these so-called riots were not explosions of criminality, but collective acts of rebellion against police brutality and racism. A leading scholar of policing, Hinton documents the most important lesson from these flash points—that police violence precipitates community violence—and shows how it continues to escape policy makers, who respond by further criminalizing entire groups instead of addressing underlying socioeconomic causes. Ultimately, Hinton argues that we cannot understand the civil rights moment without coming to terms with the astonishing violence, and hugely expanded policing regime, that followed it. Taking us from Watts in 1965 to the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Hinton’s highly anticipated America on Fire offers an unprecedented framework for understanding our current crisis.” +++++++ See also From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America by Elizabeth Hinton In the United States today, one in every thirty-one adults is under some form of penal control, including one in eleven African American men. How did the “land of the free” become the home of the world’s largest prison system? Challenging the belief that America’s prison problem originated with the Reagan administration’s War on Drugs, Elizabeth Hinton traces the rise of mass incarceration to an ironic source: the social welfare programs of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society at the height of the civil rights era. Johnson’s War on Poverty policies sought to foster equality and economic opportunity. But these initiatives were also rooted in widely shared assumptions about African Americans’ role in urban disorder, which prompted Johnson to call for a simultaneous War on Crime. The 1965 Law Enforcement Assistance Act empowered the national government to take a direct role in militarizing local police. Federal anticrime funding soon incentivized social service providers to ally with police departments, courts, and prisons. Under Richard Nixon and his successors, welfare programs fell by the wayside while investment in policing and punishment expanded. Anticipating future crime, policymakers urged states to build new prisons and introduced law enforcement measures into urban schools and public housing, turning neighborhoods into targets of police surveillance. By the 1980s, crime control and incarceration dominated national responses to poverty and inequality. The initiatives of that decade were less a sharp departure than the full realization of the punitive transformation of urban policy implemented by Republicans and Democrats alike since the 1960s. Hardcover, 464 pages Published May 2nd 2016 by Harvard University Press ISBN 0674737237 (ISBN13: 9780674737235)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Westlake

    Hinton's work is transformative historiography. Her first book filled in a gap about our understanding of later civil rights history that we had been needing for a long time. When I saw she was producing research on urban "riots" I also thought the same thing. Something that is tossed around so much but there is not a whole lot of work about it. This book makes a simple argument that is fleshed out and detailed through some great writing. The urban riots should best be described as rebellions. I Hinton's work is transformative historiography. Her first book filled in a gap about our understanding of later civil rights history that we had been needing for a long time. When I saw she was producing research on urban "riots" I also thought the same thing. Something that is tossed around so much but there is not a whole lot of work about it. This book makes a simple argument that is fleshed out and detailed through some great writing. The urban riots should best be described as rebellions. I won't say much about her specific argument, because you should read the book instead. She begins with earlier examples and ends with the Los Angeles riots after Rodney King. I grew up in Peoria, Illinois and was very much aware of the image that Taft Homes had in society throughout the eighties and nineties; it was interesting reading about some history that I had never known, and how Hinton argues that it was part of a larger trend in the late 1960s. The strength of her book is that she focuses a lot on individuals and examples that, for the most part, have eluded our national memory. I've never heard anything about Taft homes, nor of Cairo, in other historical narratives. To me, this reflects the power of the dominant narrative, written by those in positions of academic authority, but I can't say for certain. The only drawback to the book is the chapter on Los Angeles, where she focused on the interactions between Crips and Bloods. It was thought-provoking and informative, but I wish more focus could have been placed on the rebellion itself and the arguments within the black community surrounding the acts of rebellion. This was the largest rebellion before Ferguson; I would have liked to see how the thought process over rebelling changed and didn't change within the African American community. From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime, Hinton's first book, still remains on my short-list of great recent histories. This one comes close. I hope it will start a conversation and start more writing about these events

  14. 5 out of 5

    Diogenes

    Well, this book’s subtitle is a bit misleading because it’s tough to believe any “untold history” is only 300 pages long, and while I’m well educated on the abject hypocrisy of systemic racism in the United States, a nation carved from the backs of Africans on lands stolen from the indigenous, Dr. Hinton’s book reads as a fractal kaleidoscope of episodic illustrations meant to reinforce the fact that our police forces have been historically undertrained, undervalued, underpaid, and (and this her Well, this book’s subtitle is a bit misleading because it’s tough to believe any “untold history” is only 300 pages long, and while I’m well educated on the abject hypocrisy of systemic racism in the United States, a nation carved from the backs of Africans on lands stolen from the indigenous, Dr. Hinton’s book reads as a fractal kaleidoscope of episodic illustrations meant to reinforce the fact that our police forces have been historically undertrained, undervalued, underpaid, and (and this her main point) infected with racism, xenophobia, classism, and toxic brutality. This book is a timeline from 1964 to now, with the Chauvin conviction being one microscopic LED light of the endless river of blood. Scene after scene illustrates Black or Brown kids playing outside, White cop shows up to intimidate/humiliate/etc., said kids do something dumb, situation escalates, a crowd forms, cop calls for reinforcements, reinforcements show up with riot gear and the pervasive “Us vs. Them” psychology, hell breaks loose, people die. Now don’t get your undies in a bunch; police are a crucial necessity for public safety and so many police officers are good, noble, honest, and caring protectors of the peace; however, as we all know now after many decades of watching videos of Black and Brown bodies get beaten, brutalized, and murdered in cold blood by fear-and-rage-fueled White cops, police departments have become more and more militarized since the late 1960s (and more so after 9/11), and their mentality has been one of increasing militarization, infused with that entrenched “Us vs. Them” psychology and the pathologized, dehumanizing criminalization of Black and Brown and Red bodies, with “them” being just about anyone not White, Christian, Republican, and middle-class & above. Yes, we have a titanic crime problem in the United States of Inequality; yes, we have a self-destructive proliferation of firearms problem in the United States of Stupidity; and yes, we have a seemingly unfixable police problem in the United States of Hypocrisy. From the Kerner Commission’s report of 1968 (http://www.eisenhowerfoundation.org/d...) to today, we know that drastic paradigm shifts need to happen, and yet decade after decade, mayors and governors and Presidents after Presidents and governors and mayors, those in power refuse to dedicate the necessary time, money, and human capital into what truly needs to be done in order to transform communities in fundamentally proactive and empowering ways: to destroy systemic racism; to overhaul the tax system and make the filthy rich pay their fair share; to train and educate viable community-grown police officers; to mandate that quality healthcare and education are universal human rights; to have affordable, livable housing for all; and, to create innumerable opportunities for education and living-wage employment for all citizens, most especially for those in the lowest tax brackets, and even more especially for women in the lowest tax brackets. “Segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans. What white Americans have never fully understood but what the Negro can never forget--is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” This was fact in the 1960s as much as it is now. Systemic changes need to happen, and “defund the police” was a horrible slogan the media outlets dog-piled on, but I’m not going to bother with my insights because this is my last book review for Amazon-owned Goodreads, and it really doesn’t matter. Ishmael Reed called the current trend in anti-racism work the new yoga for suburban Whites. Sensitivity training doesn’t work, and deprogramming racism is a terribly tough task. I think Reed has a point, and I hope to read all of his work in time. On another front, the Kiwi metal band Antagonist A.D. recently released a song aptly titled “The System is Racist and Oppressive” (https://wallofsoundau.com/2021/03/12/...). Of course this is from a First Nations lens, but it encapsulates global hypocrisy well enough. Perhaps Body Count’s “No Lives Matter” nails the point home better (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlk7o...). I’ll see them at Aftershock this October, hopefully, wearing a mask the entire time, because this country is filled with too many idiots. Dr. Hinton was interviewed by Jeremy Scahill for the Intercepted podcast (https://theintercept.com/2021/05/26/a...) and The New Yorker’s preeminent Jelani Cobb interviewed her for LitHub (https://lithub.com/on-juneteenth-and-...). The Internet is rotting out thanks in large part to an utter lack of oversight and accountability (https://www.theatlantic.com/technolog...), knowing full-well how hyperlinks don’t hold for long while still using them to reinforce and expand my review, and I believe the Internet will be the instrument of our unraveling as we collectively lurch toward Gilead. If your browser protections don’t block the comments section on LitHub, you’ll see McCloskey clones ranting with their Rush Limbaugh / Bill O’Reilly / Alex Jones / Tucker Carlson talking points rooted in GOP horse manure going back to William F. Buckley and his deplorable, elitist ilk. Now the GOP is ruled by anonymous LARP puppeteers, networked disinformation machines, and all of QAnon’s, Fox’s, Infowars’s, OAN’s brainless minions hurling anonymous online death threats at anyone who offends their arrogant ignorance, while the millionaires and billionaires consolidate all the wealth and resources. (Nevermind all the insidious stuff deployed online, most recently revealed as the Pegasus Project now out of the toothpaste tube, and all the bots flooding his site now.) The Internet is a minefield we’re all tip-toeing through, but it’s filled with self-replicating and candy-coated landmines while Gaia warms with greater speed and intensity, and I’m exhausted by the dance while so many people just shove their faces into their digital hedonic treadmill of pap and plumage. Humanity is a plague of locusts ravenously consuming all in its way, trapped in the present-bias of self-gratification. No one is innocent. Take care, be safe, and best of luck to each of you. \m/

  15. 5 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    (Audiobook) This is not an easy read, but the subject matter is not easy to research. In reading the actions and accounts of what the population, mainly the African Americans and the police do and how they react, and you didn’t know that they were set in the 1960s, you might think that it was something happening in 2020/2021. Yet, the struggle between policing, and racial profiling/oppression is something that is not a 2020/George Floyd problem (even as they had their part to play in this book). (Audiobook) This is not an easy read, but the subject matter is not easy to research. In reading the actions and accounts of what the population, mainly the African Americans and the police do and how they react, and you didn’t know that they were set in the 1960s, you might think that it was something happening in 2020/2021. Yet, the struggle between policing, and racial profiling/oppression is something that is not a 2020/George Floyd problem (even as they had their part to play in this book). This is something that has gone on for decades. Unfortunately, this book does not offer hope that we will have the fortitude to solve the issues, as people do not follow through on initiatives that might have a chance to solve the core problems. Instead, the police continue to do what they do, and the minorities of the nation face the same problems they did before. What you ultimately feel about this book depends on what side of the political spectrum you reside. However, there is enough facts and details that this work is relevant. Maybe there is hope for the future, but if the recent past as documented in this book is any indication, we have a long, long way to go. The rating is the same for audiobook as e-copy/hard copy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steven Voorhees

    Not as dry as Hinton’s previous book. FIRE chronicles urban rebellions starting with the conflagration in Watts in 1965. It concludes with the tensions that roiled Cincinnati exactly 20 years ago in Spring 2001. In FIRE, Hinton details the violent distrust that exists between mostly white police forces and communities of color. Emanating from this distrust is the racial double standard that pervades America’s judicial system. This book’s more compelling than the author’s previous work, substitut Not as dry as Hinton’s previous book. FIRE chronicles urban rebellions starting with the conflagration in Watts in 1965. It concludes with the tensions that roiled Cincinnati exactly 20 years ago in Spring 2001. In FIRE, Hinton details the violent distrust that exists between mostly white police forces and communities of color. Emanating from this distrust is the racial double standard that pervades America’s judicial system. This book’s more compelling than the author’s previous work, substituting statistics for a sad, maddening narrative of injustice. As I read FIRE, I shook my head several times at the cruel, unfair police state people of color confront — or evade — practically every day. This is an energetic analysis of the brutality, miscommunication and tragedy that’s racked race relations in America like a cancer for nearly 60 years. Nothing dry about that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    Excellent insight and research. I really liked the amplification of the voices of people rebelling and protesting and then connecting those demands and cries to the responses from the state. Elizabeth Hinton does a great job of demonstrating this never-ending loop and cycle — because the actual demands and needs are never addressed. The people AND the data show what works and what needs to happen. And both of those things (communities + research) are consistently and predictably ignored and more Excellent insight and research. I really liked the amplification of the voices of people rebelling and protesting and then connecting those demands and cries to the responses from the state. Elizabeth Hinton does a great job of demonstrating this never-ending loop and cycle — because the actual demands and needs are never addressed. The people AND the data show what works and what needs to happen. And both of those things (communities + research) are consistently and predictably ignored and more money gets funneled into things that DON'T work, and the cycle continues. And everyone throws their hands up, so confused as to why things aren't changing 🤷‍♀️

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pete Zilla

    An interesting continuation of the ongoing discussion of race and the legal system in American. The author argues that what have been previously described as ‘race riots’ would be better called ‘rebellions’ or ‘uprisings’ and the violence of those events are a legitimate political activity by the oppressed. The author specifically validates violence against police (and white civilians?) as a necessary and useful tool in the fight for equality. I gave it four stars because I thought it was a usef An interesting continuation of the ongoing discussion of race and the legal system in American. The author argues that what have been previously described as ‘race riots’ would be better called ‘rebellions’ or ‘uprisings’ and the violence of those events are a legitimate political activity by the oppressed. The author specifically validates violence against police (and white civilians?) as a necessary and useful tool in the fight for equality. I gave it four stars because I thought it was a useful history of racial violence in the last century and was helpful to understand the arguments of the “defund the police” movement. Draw your own conclusions.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Austin Gustin-Helms

    Read this book as part of the NPR Politics podcast book club, and wow. “America on Fire: The Untold Story of Police Rebellion and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s” by Elizabeth Hinton really made an impact on me. I didn’t know just how deep the problems were between police and black Americans. And Hinton does an amazing job of avoiding racist-coded language to really give you a fuller understanding of what it means to rebel or protest or uprise (as opposed to “riots”). If you ever wanted to know Read this book as part of the NPR Politics podcast book club, and wow. “America on Fire: The Untold Story of Police Rebellion and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s” by Elizabeth Hinton really made an impact on me. I didn’t know just how deep the problems were between police and black Americans. And Hinton does an amazing job of avoiding racist-coded language to really give you a fuller understanding of what it means to rebel or protest or uprise (as opposed to “riots”). If you ever wanted to know what “systemic racism” and “defund the police” really mean, read this book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Knox

    To say I “read” this is a complete understatement. I read the intro and the books conclusion to get an idea of what it was about and I felt like that was enough for me. I hope to remember that “riots” are actually rebellions, and are something that have been going on since the Jim Crow era. I appreciated learning more about the history of police - how they originated as slave patrols and then were a misguided attempt to solve “crime” while fueling it. It seems very well researched - just too muc To say I “read” this is a complete understatement. I read the intro and the books conclusion to get an idea of what it was about and I felt like that was enough for me. I hope to remember that “riots” are actually rebellions, and are something that have been going on since the Jim Crow era. I appreciated learning more about the history of police - how they originated as slave patrols and then were a misguided attempt to solve “crime” while fueling it. It seems very well researched - just too much detail for me at this moment in time.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    The history is really interesting. I drove through Cairo, Illinois once on my way to Carbondale. Was told by my travel partner to not go there. Now I know why! Carbondale makes an appearance, but Anna, Illinois doesn't. Wonder why? It is kind of funny how this history is finally being acknowledged by the liberal mainstream. What will they reflect on next? The CIA? MIC? Using Latinx and Latin American interchangeably was funny. Short story long - cut out the Intro and the Conclusion and you have The history is really interesting. I drove through Cairo, Illinois once on my way to Carbondale. Was told by my travel partner to not go there. Now I know why! Carbondale makes an appearance, but Anna, Illinois doesn't. Wonder why? It is kind of funny how this history is finally being acknowledged by the liberal mainstream. What will they reflect on next? The CIA? MIC? Using Latinx and Latin American interchangeably was funny. Short story long - cut out the Intro and the Conclusion and you have a pretty solid book. Thank fuck this came out after the year of our Lord, January 6th 2021.

  22. 4 out of 5

    PJ

    It puts in perspective the history of police brutality against black, and brown people, and how police unions, with the help of Rudy Giuliani, made a bad system even worse. While crime in NYC went down during that time, there were other factors to take in consideration. All said, it was a good book, and people who claim to "back the blue" should take a more skeptical look at law enforcement, and how it affects marginalized groups and communities. It puts in perspective the history of police brutality against black, and brown people, and how police unions, with the help of Rudy Giuliani, made a bad system even worse. While crime in NYC went down during that time, there were other factors to take in consideration. All said, it was a good book, and people who claim to "back the blue" should take a more skeptical look at law enforcement, and how it affects marginalized groups and communities.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ernst

    A careful book on the outburst of African American anger in the late 1960s and the disastrous failure of American democracy to react reasonably. Two thirds of the book is set in the late sixties and early seventies, and the rest covers the 1990s and the first decade of this century, with some brief ending reflections on the 2020 demonstrations. No one who reads this book will reflexively say, "Respect the police," but the book tries to be even-handed. A careful book on the outburst of African American anger in the late 1960s and the disastrous failure of American democracy to react reasonably. Two thirds of the book is set in the late sixties and early seventies, and the rest covers the 1990s and the first decade of this century, with some brief ending reflections on the 2020 demonstrations. No one who reads this book will reflexively say, "Respect the police," but the book tries to be even-handed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Russell Contreras

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book and I appreciated Hinton’s argument that these smaller “riots” (as they have been called) could be classified as political rebellions. From the late 1960s through the 1970s, communities of color saw the militarization of police departments and the denials that system racism played a role in unequal policing. I liked that Hinton included the 1971 Albuquerque uprising and linked the struggle of Mexican Americans.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Rohn

    Interesting and accessibly written. Very important reframing of the urban unrest of the late 1960s and early '70s. Good use of the 'case studies for examining different themes' approach but would have appreciated some more big picture stats, which are provided for changes to police funding but somewhat lacking on the scope and reaction to the rebellions themselves Interesting and accessibly written. Very important reframing of the urban unrest of the late 1960s and early '70s. Good use of the 'case studies for examining different themes' approach but would have appreciated some more big picture stats, which are provided for changes to police funding but somewhat lacking on the scope and reaction to the rebellions themselves

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    “[T]his book has striven to show that what were long assumed to be urban, Black “riots” were, in fact, rebellions—political acts carried out in response to an unjust and repressive society.” Fascinating read with several references to Greensboro (including the very first page). I learned a lot. A little dry but packed with info.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Great read! Would highly recommend to anyone looking to expand their knowledge of modern race relations and conflicts. I only hope expanding this knowledge can lead to meaningful reform in the near future!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christa

    Superb history recasting riots as rebellions of Black people against the structured racism of American society and the escalating violence and militarization of police that has created a culture of mass incarceration. It will be hard to watch any more cop shows.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    Timely book. The first section detailing the history of police violence is excellent. The second section relates our current environment to past rebellions. It's good, but the information will be very familiar for anyone who's been paying attention and reading other books. Timely book. The first section detailing the history of police violence is excellent. The second section relates our current environment to past rebellions. It's good, but the information will be very familiar for anyone who's been paying attention and reading other books.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Relena_reads

    This is a testament to the fact that we've known the answers to the questions every racial uprising raises since LBJ. Now we just need to listen. Audiobook problem: the narrator doesn't know how to pronounce Cairo, Illinois, a core setting for the book. It was really disconcerting. This is a testament to the fact that we've known the answers to the questions every racial uprising raises since LBJ. Now we just need to listen. Audiobook problem: the narrator doesn't know how to pronounce Cairo, Illinois, a core setting for the book. It was really disconcerting.

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