Last night, OSI and the Pratt Libraries co-hosted a rich, expansive conversation with the Baltimore-based authors of “Five Days” and “I Got a Monster,” along with activist Tawanda Jones, who is profiled in “Five Days.” State Senator Jill Carter moderated the conversation, the Pratt’s Kelli Shimabukuru offered a welcome, and OSI’s Tara Huffman introduced the panelists. Watch the event here.
Erica Green, who co-wrote “Five Days” with Wes Moore, explained that the nine people profiled in the book were chosen to represent different perspectives on the 2015 uprising after the killing of Freddie Gray. Tawanda Jones, whose brother died in police custody in 2013, rallied to support the Gray family. Speaking of Jones and public defender Jenny Egan, who is also profiled in the book, Green said “if someone came in blind and just interviewed them about what they had seen or experienced, you would truly think they were crazy, you would say there is no way. And that’s kind of what some in the media have done to people like Tawanda and others for decades.”
Brandon Soderberg and Baynard Woods, who co-wrote “I Got a Monster” – which details the exploits of the Baltimore Police Department’s hopelessly corrupt Gun Trace Task Force – described how the criminal justice system often emphasizes “wins” rather than justice. “The police, at least in Baltimore but I think nationally, operate as essentially a special interest group that politicians in particular and the leadership class need to cater to and there’s a game going on there, in which they get whatever they want, whether that’s a surveillance plane or more gear or sniper rifles or whatever,” Soderberg said. “They’re really advocating for themselves and their department, often against the wishes of the city.”