A City Divided: Race, Fear and the Law in Police Confrontations

A City Divided: Race, Fear and the Law in Police Confrontations

By David A. Harris

When a high school honors student emerges from a police confrontation outside his home bruised and beaten, and facing serious criminal charges, an American city erupts in protests. A long quest for justice begins. "A City Divided" uncovers what happened and examines if race, fear and police conduct answer key questions that have become all too familiar. What goes wrong in these police confrontations and why? Can the courts find justice? And how can we prevent these tragedies in the future?

Hardback, 354 Pages


January 2020

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

A high school honors student with no police record encounters the police outside his home. He emerges from the confrontation bruised and beaten. The police charge him with serious crimes; he swears he did nothing wrong. When the story becomes public, an American city faces protests, deep division and a long quest for justice.

"A City Divided" tells the story of the case involving 18-year-old Jordan Miles and three Pittsburgh Police officers. The book takes an in-depth look at the opposing stories, and at race and the fear it incites, to find answers. What happened between the police and the teen, and what went wrong? Can the courts respond in a way that finds a just solution? And how can we prevent these tragedies in the future?

David Harris, a resident of Pittsburgh and the Sally Ann Semenko Chair at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, describes what happened, explaining how a case that began with a young black man walking around the block in his own neighborhood turned Pittsburgh inside out, resulted in two investigations of the police officers and two federal trials. Harris, who has written, published and conducted research at the intersection of race, criminal justice and the law for almost thirty years, explains not just what happened but why, what the stakes are and, most importantly, what we must do differently to avoid these public safety catastrophes.


“Telling real stories about justice and fairness is essential to creating a better and more just society for everyone. In A City Divided, David Harris tells the story of an incident of police/citizen violence that shows us how things go wrong on the street, and how racial bias fear poison our investigations and legal process. This book demands the attention of police, of government officials, and of every citizen who believes that justice is something our country can't do without.” —Lynn Novick, Emmy and Peabody Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker; Director of College Behind Bars; and Co-director of The Vietnam War (with Ken Burns)

A City Divided helps us understand how race and fear have poisoned the vital relationship between police and the communities they serve. This story of a violent clash between an African American high school student and three police officers makes a compelling case for policing that respects all people while reducing crime. David Harris lays out not just what’s wrong, but how to fix it.” —Matthew Horace, CNN and WSJ Contributor, 28-Year Law Enforcement Veteran, and Author of The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement

A City Divided shows us what happens when police and those they serve lose sight of each other, and fear takes over.” —Miriam Aroni Krinsky, Former Prosecutor and Executive Director, Fair and Just Prosecution

“The story of Jordan Miles’s arrest in Pittsburgh is a microcosm of our ongoing national dilemma of race and policing, and Harris tells it to great effect.” —Jack Glaser, Professor, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, USA, and Author of Suspect Race: Causes and Consequences of Racial Profiling

A City Divided is an important look into one of the main issues facing criminal justice today. The author does an excellent job of walking the tightrope between blanket criticism of police as being uncompromisingly racist, but instead, takes a dispassionate approach to explore the issues that shape how police officers do their job, how they are trained, and how things like the “warrior mentality” create problems. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in a better understanding of the complicated issues related to race, crime, and policing today. - Brandon T. Jett, Professor of History, Florida SouthWestern State College.

Author Information

David A. Harris, leading expert on racial profiling in the United States, is the Sally Ann Semenko Chair at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, USA. His work on police, public safety and the law includes his books Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science (2012), Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing (2005) and Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work (2002).


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Table of Contents

1. The Incident; Part I: What Happened?; 2. The People and the Places; 3. The Immediate Aftermath; 4. Investigations and Decisions; 5. The Remaining Arena: Civil Litigation; Part II: Why Did This Happen?; 6. The Poison of Race; 7. How Fear Impacts the Police; 8. How Fear Impacts Black Americans; 9. If He Didn’t Do Anything, Then Why Did He Run?; Part III: Was Justice Served?; 10. The First Trial: Jordan’s Case; 11. The First Trial: The Police Case; 12. The Second Trial; Part IV: What’s Next?; 13. What Can We Do?; Epilogue; Glossary; Index.


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