The Savage City was sometimes too dark and gritty for my tastes. Other times it suited me just fine. I stayed up way after hours to finish it last night. The narrative switches between two or three narratives – first there is the story of George Whitmore, a poor, black, well-meaning but ignorant and innocent kid from New Jersey who is picked up for murder and framed for it. The second story is the one of Bill Phillips, a cop/hustler, corruption personified, taking bribes, payoffs and protection money from the people in his district. The third story is that of the Black Power movement which picked up on the struggles and shot them to national headlines with rioting while their own organization went down in the flames. It was the framing that got gritty, of George Whitmore and by Bill Phillips.
Although I live in California, I remembered much of it as I read along. Not the names but the big events, the murders of the Career Girls, the protests, the city in flames, the “mau-mau” talk as well as the corruption scandals. It was a hard time. Do I think anything really got changed – I don’t think so – not really. The cop-shops and DA offices still push for guilty verdicts without pushing for truth. Well-meaning organizations still get victimized by their own internal greed and power struggles. The powerless still get trampled and dumped.