The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun, and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood

Farrar. May 2021. 400p. ISBN 9780374168919. $28. SOC SCI
In 2013, activist Terrance Roberts shot Hasan Jones, who was allegedly a gang member, during a rally in a Denver neighborhood known as the Holly. Rubenstein (Ballad of the Whiskey Robber) looks at history, activism, and politics in Denver to better understand the forces that contributed to the shooting. The Holly is a historically Black neighborhood in Denver; it was a pivotal center of the community when Roberts’s grandmother moved there during the 1950s. After the U.S. government dismantled civil rights protections, residents of the Holly experienced increased gang violence, and the area was left to decay by the predominantly white local government. Roberts joined a gang to defend his community, but after several terms in prison he became a community activist dedicated to stopping gang violence in his neighborhood. Despite his efforts, the influence of local politicians and interests limited his success. Rubenstein explores many aspects of the war on drugs, including policing, gang violence, activism, and the role of local and national politics.
VERDICT An informed analysis of the complex intersections between police and the community, which will especially draw in readers involved in community organizing and anti-racist activism.
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