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Jim Jones

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  • Wandering Eye: Fact-checking the number of police killings, learning from 'Black Panthers,' and more

    Wandering Eye: Fact-checking the number of police killings, learning from 'Black Panthers,' and more
    Eddie Conway has a lot of juice in Baltimore. A Black Panther who spent 44 years in state prison—he was convicted of killing a police officer named Donald Sager; many in the city's left community believe he was unjustly convicted—Conway links the city's radical past with its radical present. Even before last week's riots and protests, he appeared on radio talk shows and public forums to dispense his unique and sage view of events, historic and current. Now employed by The Real News Network as a producer, Conway is a journalist, with two books under his belt. That is why it is crucial that Conway get fact-checked in his current piece in The Progressive, which is co-bylined by Dominique Stevenson. After suggesting that youth at Mondawmin Mall were goaded into rioting by police (a claim this newspaper has also made but that is contested by police and other observers who were at the mall that afternoon), Conway and Stevenson make this claim: "Since 2012 there have been 111 people killed by the police in Maryland." It is a shocking number. And it is an error. The apparent source of the figure is this ACLU report released in March. According to the report, compiled from news reports and police press releases, 109 people died after encounters with Maryland police since 2010, two years earlier. It is still a shocking figure, and the report makes clear both the racial disparities and Maryland's apparent status as a particularly deadly place to encounter a cop: 86 of the dead were killed by police gunfire. That fact alone is shocking enough to make Conway's point. But while the nine-page ACLU report is heavy on statistical Holy Shit moments, it is light on detail. So light that it is impossible for anyone check the figures without doing arduous original research. Not even the names of these victims are included. As the authors state, "The purpose of our inquiry was not to detail the facts of individual cases, but rather to provide some sense of the overall scope of this problem in the aggregate and to convey the gravity and extent of its reach." The ACLU is generally a trustworthy source, but this is a curious report backed by a curious editorial decision. Its methodology is slightly reminiscent of the infamous, still-repeated claims by the Black Panthers that police targeted the group for genocidal assassination. In 1969 the Panther's spokesperson claimed 28 of its members had been assassinated by cops, and newspapers across the country published the figure as if it had been checked out. Two years later, in The New Yorker, Edward Jay Epstein did check it out. Read what he found out. (Edward Ericson Jr.)
  • Review: 'Early Warning' by Jane Smiley

    Review: 'Early Warning' by Jane Smiley
    In "Some Luck," the first book in Jane Smiley's ambitious planned Last Hundred Years trilogy, Rosanna Langdon delivered her fifth baby, Henry, completely alone, howling in an isolated Iowa farmhouse while husband Walter tended the land, out of earshot...

    E-reader: For Sherlock, game is afoot once again

    E-reader: For Sherlock, game is afoot once again
    The Three Monarchs by Anthony Horowitz, 30-minute read, $1.99, Kindle Single If you've already plowed through Anthony Horowitz's latest Sherlock Holmes novel, "Moriarty," consider this Kindle Single, "The Three Monarchs." Scotland Yard inspector...

    Ti West's 'The Sacrament' finds horror in a realistic cult tale

    Ti West's 'The Sacrament' finds horror in a realistic cult tale
    Filmmaker Ti West has emerged as one of the freshest voices on the indie horror scene with films such as "The House of the Devil" and "The Innkeepers," knowingly playing with audiences' expectations and the genre rule book. So with his most recent film,...

    Remains of Jonestown Massacre victims found at Delaware funeral home

    Remains of Jonestown Massacre victims found at Delaware funeral home
    The cremated remains of nine victims of the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, a mass suicide in Guyana, were discovered inside a former Delaware funeral home on Wednesday, state officials said. Members of the Delaware Division of Forensic Science and the Dover...