The bigger picture

Chapter nine is, for the most part, a repeat of everything that’s happened Homicide so far. The 100 page chapter forced me to step back and think about all the reoccurring themes in the book.

“At its core, the crime is the same,” (459).

The chapter opens on a back alley that’s empty except for the crumpled form of a dead 12 year-old girl. She was pulled into the alley after walking her sister to a bus stop, raped and shot. Andrea Perry’s murder is horribly similar to that of Latonya Wallace earlier in the book.

David Simon often brings up the idea of innocent victims — someone who wasn’t a criminal themselves and someone who truly didn’t deserve their fate because of their age or circumstance. These victims get the ultimate public sympathy and naturally become high profile “red ball” cases.

Harry Edgerton is the primary on Andrea Perry’s case.

Baltimore has a large African-Amercan population and the race issues that plague the city is another theme that Simon brings to light. Most of the criminals and victims in the book are black, and most of the detectives and police officers in the book are white. It’s not hard to imagine the strained relationship the exists between the public and the police.

Edgerton is one of few black officers in the homicide unit.

“Edgerton is at ease in the ghetto in a way that even the best white detectives are not. And more than most of the black investigators, too, Edgerton can somehow talk his way past the fact that he’s a cop,” (462).

His skill as a detective isn’t because of his race but it breaks down a historical barrier between the public he’s dealing with and the police department. More than once, Simon points out how race is used by the system to affect public support and he brings it up again in this chapter as a previous case makes its way to court.

Like Baltimore, Winnipeg has a similar racial dichotomy going on. Winnipeg has the largest urban aboriginal population and of the people locked up in its prisons the majority are aboriginal. Racism is unfortunately rampant in this city and there is a hell of a lot of healing that needs to happen before things get better.

The third theme that keeps coming up is the strangeness of death and the unfeeling qualities of most homicide detectives. If you see death everyday, especially horrible murders that make you doubt humanity, you’re going to become immune to the emotion of the act.

In this chapter, Donald Waltemeyer slips up in this regard and feels a twinge of remorse for an overdose victim. Death is something that’s illusive but everywhere at the same time. We have no idea what happens when you stop breathing but we are inundated with stories and images of death everyday.

It’s a really fucked up world we live in and death, innocence and difference play equally heavy roles in it.

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