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By Édouard Levé

«Adolescent, je croyais que l. a. Vie mode d'emploi m'aiderait à vivre, et Suicide mode d'emploi à mourir. J'ai passé trois ans et trois mois à l'étranger. Un de mes amis jouit dans los angeles trahison. J'oublie ce qui me déplaît. J'ai peut-être parlé sans le savoir avec quelqu'un qui a tué quelqu'un. Je vais regarder dans les impasses. Ce qu'il y a au bout de l. a. vie ne me fait pas peur. Je n'écoute pas vraiment ce qu'on me dit. J'ai parlé à Salvado Dalí à l'âge de deux ans. Décrire précisément ma vie me prendrait plus de temps que l. a. vivre. l. a. date de naissance qu'indique ma carte d'identité est fausse. Je ne sais pas sur qui j'ai de l'influence. Je parle à mes objets lorsqu'ils sont tristes. Je ne sais pas pourquoi j'écris. Je suis calme dans les retrouvailles. Je n'ai rien contre le réveillon. Quinze ans est le milieu de ma vie, quelle que soit l. a. date de ma mort. Je crois qu'il y a une vie après los angeles vie, mais pas une mort après los angeles mort. Je ne demande pas si on m'aime. Je ne pourrai dire qu'une fois sans mentir "je meurs". Le plus beau jour de ma vie est peut-être passé.»

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He believed in his craft—believed unreservedly in the idea of homicide investigation as a cause. He believed that the state articulated its response to violence by apprehending those who committed it, and that failing to do so sent an unmistakable message the other way—that violence was tolerated, especially when the victims were poor black men. ” But La Barbera’s observations over the years in South Los Angeles had convinced him that catching killers built law—that successful homicide investigations were the most direct means at the cops’ disposal of countering the informal self-policing and street justice that was the scourge of urban black populations.

People who had learned their trade over years and scores of murders. Such detectives were experts less because of the variety of cases they worked than their sameness. High-homicide environments are alike. The killings typically arise from arguments. A large share of them can be described in two words: Men fighting. These male “dramas,” he observed, were not so different from those among quarreling women of the projects. In fact, they were often extensions of them. “Women work through men by agitating them to homicide,” observed an anthropologist studying Mayan villages in Mexico.

Glory Massey had no doubt in her mind that if Leo had been white instead of black, the police would have solved his murder. Skaggs met her in the bureau’s office at the Crenshaw Mall. She believed the authorities didn’t care, and she feared that one of her teenage sons—or some other young man from their neighborhood —would be tempted to retaliate. Now here was yet another LAPD detective claiming interest in the case. Massey was losing patience with it—these people called themselves professionals, yet they allowed teenage boys to do their work for them, to seek justice where the state had failed to secure it.

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