"How many snitches you got in your jail, Mr. Police-man?"
"Too many, my brother," Sidney said. "We got too many snitches, too many nonsnitches, and way too many young brothers trying to figure out how they got there." (2.109-2.110)
Sidney works hard to try to keep the kids in his neighborhood out of jail. Do we see his efforts pay off at all? If so, when? If not, why do you think he keeps trying?
Sidney Rock was a cop, but he was okay with everybody on both sides of the Ave. […] He kind of looked out for all the brothers that he knew and that were straight with him. (2.91)
Sidney's a good cop—the kind who actually makes an effort to prevent crime instead of just arresting people. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case and there are other cops who are basically criminals with badges.
Back in the day, before there were Bloods, Crips, and other gangs, there were a lot of black social clubs. (2.1)
Jesse belongs to the Counts, a nonviolent "social club" of teenage boys. But some people (ahem—we're looking at you, Rise) seem determined to turn the group into a gang.
"The dude's in jail and looking for company. He ain't getting my mama's child for a roommate." (2.39)
When Mason, a member of the Counts who has been arrested, asks for backup, the whole club resists. Well, except for Rise that is. He's all about it. It's the beginning of the end for the Counts as strictly a social club.
One of the things about the hood was that there was this anxious bit with the cops. Everybody knew we had to have cops around so the thugees wouldn't rule, but we had to be all like "don't be in my face with it" at the same time. (6.31)
Jesse suggests that he appreciates police work, even though he and his friends don't always show it. Maybe he should send Sidney a card or something…
"Look, Jesse, strictly between you and me, I got the word from some people uptown that they need a new wheel to deal the downtown blow." (8.33)
Rise is "confiding" in Jesse that he's becoming a drug dealer. Never mind that he's been bragging about it all over town. Why do you think he tells Jesse that it's a secret?
"If a white cop sees you with a cap gun, he's going to use it as an excuse to shoot you," White Clara said. (10.6)
The criminal element in Jesse's neighborhood isn't just citizens—it also includes some dirty cops. Which leaves us with one question: who polices the police?
I hated drugs. And almost everything that was going down wrong in the hood was based on people dealing. (12.31)
Jesse sees drugs as the source of most of the misery in his neighborhood. Do you think he's right? Or are there other forces driving the problems in his community?
"You understand that, Jesse?" Mom asked. "It's not about whether you did anything or not. It's that we're dealing with the system, and we have to understand their rules." (21.19)
Jesse isn't worried about going to the police station because he knows that he's innocent. But his parents know that sometimes innocence isn't enough—especially for black men.
"You did the drive-by?"
"I dropped the word," Rise said. "Let's go over some more of your pictures." (11)
Rise is like, let's see, today I ate two bowls of cereal for breakfast, got my nails done, checked my Facebook, and killed several people. It's scary how casual he is about it.