13 Days in Fer­gu­son

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews | Adult Nonfiction - MYA ALEXICE

Ron John­son Alan Eisen­stock (Con­trib­u­tor) Tyn­dale House Pub­lish­ers (AU­GUST) Hard­cover $25.99 (304pp) 978-1-4964-1657-5

13 Days in Fer­gu­son is a nu­anced, hon­est ex­am­i­na­tion of race, duty, and spir­i­tu­al­ity.

Cap­tain Ron­ald John­son was in charge of the po­lice force in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, dur­ing the up­set fol­low­ing Michael Brown’s mur­der, the in­ci­dent that sparked sev­eral days of protests and ri­ots. John­son rec­on­ciles his oc­cu­pa­tion as an of­fi­cer and his iden­tity as a black man as he grap­ples with in­ter­nal demons. Though it some­times delves into clichés, this is an eye-open­ing look at both sides of the conflict.

Michael Brown’s un­armed body was left in the street for hours af­ter he was shot by an un­named cop. His neigh­bor­hood erupted in jus­ti­fied rage, tak­ing to the streets to protest. The gover­nor called in John­son, who was serv­ing with the Mis­souri State High­way Pa­trol, to deesca­late things. Re­gard­less of which side he was on, John­son knew he had a responsibility to serve his com­mu­nity to the best of his abil­ity.

13 Days in Fer­gu­son de­tails the thir­teen days of ri­ots, protests, and marches that sat­u­rated Fer­gu­son af­ter Brown’s death. John­son pro­vides a bru­tally hon­est ex­ca­va­tion of his thought pro­cesses dur­ing the time. On one hand, he knows all too well the racism present in Amer­ica, in­stances of which are shown clearly in the text. On the other, he’s been a mem­ber of the po­lice force all his life, and be­lieves in its mis­sion.

John­son’s ac­count adds much-needed nu­ance to the de­bate around po­lice bru­tal­ity. Vivid scenes of the chaos in Fer­gu­son in­clude tan­gi­ble de­tails and emo­tions. The book also ex­plores John­son’s life out­side of these events, adding more lay­ers to his story and his po­si­tion. Mo­ments of cathar­sis fill the book, as when a black of­fi­cer and a white of­fi­cer hug and cry to­gether. At times, though, the text falls into plat­i­tude, wax­ing po­etic about the won­ders faith can do for a com­mu­nity.

13 Days in Fer­gu­son is a gen­uine, brutal ob­ser­va­tion of an im­por­tant pe­riod.

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