Race and Justice: Rodney King and O. J. Simpson in a House Divided

Overview

The jury watched the video that showed four Los Angeles police officers unmercifully beating Rodney King. Yet, they found three of the four police officers not guilty of using excessive force.Another jury considered what many thought was the overwhelming evidence against the accused, including the blood evidence and DNA analysis of the socks, the glove, and the gate. Yet, they found O. J. Simpson not guilty of the double murder of his ex-wife and her friAnd Ron Goldman.In this thought-provoking book, psychologist...

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Overview

The jury watched the video that showed four Los Angeles police officers unmercifully beating Rodney King. Yet, they found three of the four police officers not guilty of using excessive force.Another jury considered what many thought was the overwhelming evidence against the accused, including the blood evidence and DNA analysis of the socks, the glove, and the gate. Yet, they found O. J. Simpson not guilty of the double murder of his ex-wife and her friAnd Ron Goldman.In this thought-provoking book, psychologist and scholar Jewelle Taylor Gibbs puts the Rodney King and O. J. Simpson trials under the microscope to show that the issue of race was at the very heart of both of these emotionally charged cases. And, she observes, given the racial and ethnic composition of the members of the two juries, their verdicts were all but predictable in view of their different experiences with the police.Race and Justice reviews the turbulent events of the two so called trials of the century and examines them from a social and political framework of race relations and police misconduct. The author points out that King and Simpson, two apparently dissimilar men, came from remarkably similar backgrounds. And she shows how their trials have linked them forever as symbols of the different worlds inhabited by blacks and whites in America. Gibbs's compelling analysis of the issues that permeated these trials will challenge even the most cynical observer to rethink any previously held assumptions about race and the criminal justice system.Written in the style of a journalistic thriller, Race and Justice provides a context for understanding the history of the black experience in America and the pervasiveness of racism in the Los Angeles criminal justice system. And the book's insightful comments and quotes from many of Los Angeles's community leaders, judges, politicians, lawyers, and police officials bring to light the double standard of black justice and white justice in Amer

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Gibbs' book, an in-depth analysis of the Rodney King and O.J.Simpson cases, is bold, courageous scholarship. Penned by atalented clinical psychologist, the study rises abovesuperficiality and even now stands out from the large body ofopportunistic, commercial Simpson-King literature. . . . An instantclassic."

"An excellent manual. . . . Offers constructive insights into bothtrials from intellectuals, educators and lawyers as well as socialworkers and community support counselors."

"Gibbs finds context and meaning in this first serious, scholarlystudy of Rodney King and O.J. Simpson cases."

• Race and Justice penetrates the searing headlines of two of themost celebrated criminal trials in American history to ponder theirbroader implications for our society. Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, thewise and insightful author, offers trenchant observations about thefuture of race relations in Los Angeles that Americans everywhereshould heed, and in a hurry.? — Hugh B. Price, president, NationalUrban League

• Must reading for those who want to reinvent the jury system,improve race relations, and make sense of the Rodney King and O.J.Simpson verdicts and their racially polarized aftermaths. Drawingon history, sociology, and psychology, the author analyzes thesecontroversial verdicts and concludes that they are the legacy ofracial injustice and police violence.? —Eddie N. Williams,president, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

• Sensitive and gripping. Essential for anyone who wants tounderstand police and racial tension in America.? —Joseph D.McNamara, retired police chief of San Jose, California, researchfellow, Hoover Institution Stanford University

• Sensitive and gripping. Essential for anyone who wants tounderstand police and racial tension in America? —Joseph D.McNamara, retired police chief of San Jose, research fellow, HooverInstitution Stanford University

"An important, thoughtful analysis."

"This book is brilliant, dramatic and appalling....Her book iscarefully documented, but written in an easy and attractivestyle."

"Jewelle Taylor Gibbs, the wise and insightful author offerstrenchant observations about the future of race relations in LosAngeles that Americans everywhere should heed, and in a hurry."—Hugh B. Price, President, National Urban League

"Careful and provocative analyses . . . essential for anyoneinterested in a broader perspective of the issues." —Phillip YoungBlue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Library, LibraryJournal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gibbs, a clinical psychologist, defends the mostly black O.J. Simpson jury against the perception that race was the key factor in its decision to acquit him of double murder. There was ample cause for reasonable doubt, she argues. Yet race, she maintains, was nonetheless an overwhelming factor in both the Simpson case and in the 1992 acquittal (by a predominantly white jury) of four white LAPD officers who brutally beat black motorist Rodney King. In this detailed, impassioned analysis of both cases and their aftermaths, she emphasizes that African Americans' rage at the King jury, and empathy with the Simpson verdict, reflects their daily personal experience with an inequitable criminal justice system, police harassment and brutality, systemic racism and discrimination. A social policy professor at UC-Berkeley, Gibbs insists the Simpson jury's willingness to entertain the defense's theory of a police conspiracy must be interpreted in the context of a long history of oppression and cover-ups-unpunished police beatings or fatal injuries of black men in police custody; suspected FBI involvement in the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers; the documented government infiltration of the Black Panthers; and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which life-saving medication was withheld from hundreds of black men with advanced syphilis. Her study makes a vigorous contribution to the debate over race, class and the justice system in America. 50,000 first printing; 50,000 ad/promo. (Nov.)
Library Journal
A distinguished scholar in the field of social policy, the author is also a clinical psychologist specializing in psychological, social, and mental health issues affecting poor, urban minority groups. She draws upon her expertise to weave common threads of racial inequality, discrimination, and mistreatment into a complex and extended fabric of injustice and misconduct perpetrated against ethnic minorities nationwide in general and against black males in Los Angeles in particular. Taylor-Gibbs adroitly develops this theme within the context of the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson trials. Her careful and provocative analyses of the underlying racial currents in these two cases combine to give her work a level of insight absent from those of courtroom players such as Robert Shapiro (The Search for Justice, LJ 8/15/96) and Gerald Uelmen (Lessons from the Trial, LJ 6/15/96), who focus more closely on the trial evidence, or lack thereof. Essential for anyone interested in a broader perspective of the issues.Phillip Young Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787902643
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/18/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.39 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

JEWELLE TAYLOR GIBBS a clinical psychologist and consultant, is Zellerbach Family Fund professor of social policy at the School of Social Welfare, University of California at Berkeley. She is the coauthor of Children of Color (Jossey-Bass, 1989) and the editor of Young, Black, and Male in America: An Endangered Species (Greenwood Press, 1988).

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Part One: Rodney King
1. Los Angeles: from Watts to South Central
2. Rodney King: Gentle Giant or Gorilla in the Mist?
3. The Color of Justice, I: The Trial, the Victim, theVerdict
4. Days of Rage: No Justice, No Peace
5. Two Commissions and Three Trials: Community Conflict andConcepts of Justice
Part Two: O. J. Simpson
6. O. J. Simpson: The Man, the Myth, the Marriage
7. The Crime, the Chase, the Arrest
8. The People V. O.J. Simpson: The Trial Begins
9. Ambushing the Prosecution: Playing the Race Card
10. The Color of Justice, II: The Verdict, the Response, theAftermath
Part Three: Race and Justice
11. "Bad Blood": Conspiracy Theories and the Black Community
12. A House Divided: Healing the Wound, Restoring the Dream
AppAndix A: Research Note
AppAndix B: People Interviewed

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