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Crime and Punishment in the Jim Crow South$
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Amy Louise Wood and Natalie J. Ring

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042409

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042409.001.0001

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“Many People ‘Colored’ Have Come to the Homicide Office”

“Many People ‘Colored’ Have Come to the Homicide Office”

Police Investigations of African American Homicides in Memphis, 1920–1945

(p.34) Chapter 2 “Many People ‘Colored’ Have Come to the Homicide Office”
Crime and Punishment in the Jim Crow South

Brandon T. Jett

University of Illinois Press

This chapter uses black-on-black homicide reports from the Memphis Police Department in the Jim Crow era to reveal the complex interactions between the police and black Memphians. The police investigated these crimes extensively, especially in light of the white public’s outcries about crime rates. Yet, this was not a simple matter of white social control. African Americans aided the police in these efforts, providing information, collecting evidence, and acting as witnesses, not because they trusted the police to protect their neighborhoods, but because they did not. Their involvement allowed them to grasp some leverage in a system under which they otherwise had very little power.

Keywords:   African Americans, black-on-black crime, homicide, police, Jim Crow, Memphis, power

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