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Sitdown Sunday: 'I saw a police car hit a teen - so why was it so hard to prove?'

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Image: Shutterstock/Fedorovekb

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Pop Smoke

Pop Smoke was a young hip-hop artist whose career grew quickly. Then, last February, he was shot and killed (aged just 20) in a home invasion. 

(The New York Times, approx 18 mins reading time)

The months leading up to Pop Smoke’s death were packed with promise and adventure, persistence and trial. Interviews with 18 of his friends, colleagues and collaborators tell the story of this vital period — the intoxication of rapid career ascent, the persistent barriers the police put in his path, the exponentially growing crowds, the exponentially more expensive clothing, a multi-hour sit-down with 50 Cent, a high-wire video shoot in the streets of Paris and the recording sessions that would become the foundation for his first full-length album, “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon,” which will be released on July 3.

2. New stage of the pandemic

The Atlantic has been doing a lot of great reporting on the pandemic. In this piece, it looks at how cases in the USA have grown again lately. 

(The Atlantic, approx 13 mins reading time)

This new surge is large enough to shift the entire country’s top-line statistics. In terms of new confirmed cases, three of the 10 worst days of the U.S. pandemic so far have come since Friday, according to data collected by the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. The seven-day average of new cases has now risen to levels last seen 11 weeks ago, during the worst of the outbreak in New York. The U.S. has seen more cases in the past week than in any week since the pandemic began.

3. Screen time

You’ve been spending a lot of time on screens these past few months. So how do you cultivate a better relationship with your laptop or phone? Here are some tips.

(New York Times, approx 10 mins reading time)

Once you’ve identified your screen time “essentials,” it’s time to think about your leisure time (or what passes for it these days). Identify which of these “C”s feels good to you, and in what doses. Then brainstorm ways to do each both on- and off-screen. Bonus points if you ask yourself what kind of consumption, creation and connection makes you feel the best. For example, many people have been turning to old-fashioned phone calls instead of texts.

4. When a police car hits a kid

An investigative journalist sees a car hit a teenager. But when he tries to find out what happened, he’s stonewalled.

(ProPublica, approx 15 mins reading time)

The parents stood outside the precinct for the next four hours, waiting to be allowed to see their kids. One of the fathers, silent most of the time, said he was worried about how late the kids were being held because they still had school in the morning. A mother had to leave her 2-year-old with a neighbor. She paced around outside the station. “I blame myself,” she kept saying. “I never let him out on Halloween. A bunch of Black boys together. I shouldn’t have let him out. But he begged me.”

5. My bluebird

A sweet story (coming a little after Father’s day) about the musician Jim White and how he helped his daughter Willow, whose nickname is Bluebird.

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(The Sunday Long Read, approx 30 mins reading time)

Over time, Jim had learned to stand tall during his personal storms, drawing artistic inspiration from them. The writing had comforted Jim during his many personal and professional crises. When he bought the Winterville house, he was in the midst of a protracted custody battle with Willow’s mother. The fight, fierce as a Category 5 hurricane, would shape his daughter’s upbringing and his identity as a parent. This struggle, and untold others to follow, would test the limits of the bond between father and child.

6. Life with ALS

When Brian Wallach’s left hand started cramping, what seemed to be a minor annoyance soon became a diagnosis of ALS. He decided to use what was happening as a way to offer hope to other people with the fatal disease.

(Wired, approx 30 mins reading time)

He met with Carol Hamilton, ALS TDI’s senior director of development, and Rob Goldstein, its vice president of ALS community engagement at the time. Hamilton met Brian and his mother in the lobby of the hotel where the conference was being held. “I remember having to walk away,” Hamilton says. “He reminded me of so many people I went to college with, so brilliant and lovely. And he had just had a baby and is bravely standing there where he’s going to hear horrific stuff about this disease.”


Here’s a conversation with Hamilton creator Lin Manuel Miranda from 2015.

(Grantland, approx 20 mins reading time)

The things that you can see in Hamilton that are affecting people are also present in Les Mis. One, it’s trying to capture so much of the human experience that even if we fall short, we’ve got a lot of it. I mean, Les Misérables starts in prison. It’s “Look down, look down, you’re standing in your grave.” And then it goes up from there. And in terms of musical theater, it’s the opposite of what most people’s prejudices with musical theater is: It’s not sunny and uplifting. I think that’s why it struck such a universal chord with people.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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