A book was released in September of 2018 entitled Chokehold: Policing Black Men. The essence of the book is that through various means, black men suffer lethal effects of societal racism at the hands of law enforcement.

The use of the term “chokehold” is a reference to Eric Garner, a black man who was arrested by police in Staten Island for allegedly selling untaxed single cigarettes. He was subjected to a chokehold and died as a result. The medical examiner found that Garner’s death was a homicide, but no one was indicted.

There is nothing obscene about the Chokehold book. In fact, it appears to be a true account of racism against blacks at the hands of police officers. But it apparently contains “unauthorized content,” according to the Arizona Department of Corrections, which has banned the book in Arizona prisons.” The ban appears to be a bit ironic, since, at least implicitly, it supports the thesis of the very book being banned.

The DOC action is being challenged by the ACLU, which successfully fought the ban of another book – The New Jim Crow – which targets racism in the criminal justice system. The book had been banned in prisons in New Jersey and North Carolina.

It’s a good day for a choke hold but a bad day to read about it

Another interesting aspect of this controversy is that this month a review came out documenting racist comments on Facebook by hundreds of cops around the country. Included are 197 comments by close to 100 Phoenix police officers. Of those Phoenix officers, more than 75% are still on the job.

To be fair, the comments targeted not only blacks, but also Mexicans, women and Muslims. In some cases, the they endorsed violence against those groups. A prime example was the statement by a current officer who stated: “It’s a good day for a choke hold.” For many, the disclosure of the comments comes as no surprise, and provides even more support for the thesis of the Chokehold book.

One final note, this one under the topic of your tax dollars at work. The Phoenix PD received a $450,000 grant last year for “implicit bias” training of police officers. About a third of the money has already been spent. While we hope the training will have a positive effect and combat racism and misogyny, we’re not overly optimistic.

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Arizona Prisons Ban Book on Racism
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