In Walter Mosley’s story “Smoke” the police are depicted as being completely uncaring about issues in African American neighborhoods. This reflects the real life relationship between African American communities and police at that time period. In the time period the book was set in it was very common for police to ignore calls coming in from predominantly African American or other minority neighborhoods and this discrimination is still present even today. The discrimination created a need for the people in these neighborhoods to enforce the law how they saw fit and take care of most issues “in-house,” so to speak. This created a need for vigilante type characters such as the protagonist from “Smoke” Easy Rawlins. These characters were good, up-standing people that wanted to see justice served.
“Smoke” was written in the early 2000’s but the issue of police neglect extends back much farther through the years. The media has broadcasted an almost countless number of police neglect stories and while it is possible that some of these stories have been sensationalized the fact that it seems to occur so often over such a long period of time is disturbing at best. Stories range all across the board from the police performing illegal searches to simply not showing up when they are called. There is a part in “Smoke” where Easy, the main character, calls the police about a case of arson that occurred at the school he works at. Rather than getting up and actually doing something the police officer instead tells Easy that he should come down to the station the next day and file a report. When Easy tries to tell them it is an important issue the officer simply hangs up on him. Many crimes in Easy’s neighborhood seem to go on unanswered by the police.
While apathy isn’t a crime most of the police officers in “Smoke” are certainly guilty of it. This is reflected in many real life cases and comes about because of the mindset of most police recruits. Studies have shown that...
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