April 04, 2016

New ABA book offers historical look at eruptions in Ferguson and how to clear paths to change

CHICAGO, April 4, 2016 — As the nation continues to grapple with the after effects of multiple cases involving police using deadly force to kill unarmed African-American males, which has eroded the public’s assurance of police, prosecutors, judges and public defenders, a new book offers meaningful paths to help build and sustain confidence in the justice system.

The American Bar Association book “Ferguson's Fault Lines,” edited by Kimberly Jade Norwood, a professor of law at Washington University Law in St. Louis, offers a historical tour of race, inequality and injustices in America, which collided in Ferguson, Mo., after the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer. It offers varying perspectives and strategies for recognizing and dealing with implicit biases that contribute to disparities in the justice system.

ABA President Paulette Brown wrote in the Foreward, “This timely book addresses the deeply rooted perception of inequality and injustices experienced in Ferguson, Missouri with a keen focus on the legal and social reverberations following the death of Michael Brown.”

The book, published in conjunction with the ABA, examines some of the underlying issues that have led to the recent cases of deadly force and subsequent national dialogue. They include:

  • The history of racial violence against black bodies: from slavery to Ferguson
  • Stereotypes, racial bias, masculinity and the implications on policing
  • Lessons learned from grand jury proceedings
  • For-profit policing and efforts to transform the system
  • The politics of housing segregation in Greater St. Louis
  • Exploration of 60 years of unequal education (Brown to Brown)
  • Employment statistics and the criminalization of black lives
  • Disparities in mental and physical health, employment and opportunity
  • Media framing of the narratives presented to the public: black versus white
  • Ferguson and the First Amendment
  • Body cameras and policing in the 21 Century

What others are saying about “Ferguson’s Fault Lines”: “This book casts a spotlight on ground zero for the struggle for racial and social justice. Don't miss it!” —Dr. Cornel West, professor at Union Theological Seminary and professor emeritus at Princeton University “Ferguson's Fault Lines demonstrates the truly structural nature of American criminal (in) justice in painstaking detail.” — Tim Wise, author White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son and Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America “This work includes some of our nation's best scholars and activists who explore and explain the powerful seismic shaking of our country that began with the death of a Black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri at the hands of a white police officer.

Ferguson brought into stark relief multiple levels of injustice and racism in our criminal justice system; the socioeconomic, housing, health (mental and physical) and educational inequities contained therein; and it set off a national call for policing reform. The authors here dig deep to uncover the buried and entangled roots of racism in St. Louis County, and challenge us to do the hard work of reimagining the dimensions of racial justice and equality not only in this area of the country but in the many areas throughout our nation currently operating under identical conditions.” — Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.

“Ferguson's Fault Lines offers an astounding autopsy exposing one community's multiple organ failure.” — Deborah Kittredge Irving, author, Waking up White, Racial Justice Educator & Writer.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and the rule of law. View our on line. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter .