There Are No Children Here


Alex Kotlowitz

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There Are No Children Here: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

On March 2, Craig Davis visits his girlfriend at Horner and returns to his own housing complex, the ABLA homes, where he lives with his uncle and his uncle’s girlfriend. That evening, he walks out the house, telling his uncle he will be back in a minute, since he simply needs to pick up turntables and speakers from a friend’s house. Meanwhile, two police officers are driving around the neighborhood, looking for someone called “Craig” who had bought a shotgun in the past few days.
The story’s sudden focus on the specific details of one particular day in Craig Davis’s life—even though Craig is, after all, only a secondary character—creates a sense of impending doom, suggesting that what is about to happen is important. The police officers’ search for “Craig” further gives the impression that a catastrophe based on a misunderstanding is about to take place.
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Craig Davis was arrested a few months earlier for allegedly stealing cookies. He was in a friend’s apartment when the police came in, arresting everyone present because they had a box of cookies that had supposedly been stolen from a delivery truck—which Craig claims he never did. This experience has made him fear the police and, that night, when he sees the police car, he begins to run even though he has done nothing wrong. One of the police officers gives chase and, after a while, finally catches him. He grabs him and holds him against a wall, holding a gun up to his head. According to the officer, Craig begins to struggle and the pistol accidentally discharges, although later evidence shows that the policeman was holding the gun to Craig’s head when it discharged.
The triviality of the motive for which Craig was arrested and the unfortunate set of circumstances that allowed for such an arrest—namely, Craig’s presence in the wrong place at the wrong time—illustrates the law enforcement’s deeply unjust (and absurd) attitudes toward Horner residents. However, this seemingly unimportant incident has a significant impact on Craig’s attitude toward the police. This time, though, the policeman’s actions, which might be equally unfair and misguided, have much deeper consequences, as they bring a tragic end to Craig’s life even though the young man seems to have done nothing wrong.
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A newspaper article about this incident later claims that Craig Davis was a member of the Disciples and calls him “a reputed street gang member,” arguing that his death was the result of “a scuffle” with a policeman, which Davis was responsible for starting.
It remains ambiguous whether the media’s perspective is intentionally deceptive or based on erroneous information from the police. Either way, this news piece reveals how the media presents the public with a severely distorted picture of the reality in inner-city neighborhoods.
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