I Am Raymond Washington – 2015 Book Pipeline Winner
Zach Fortier was a police officer for over 30 years, specializing in K-9, SWAT, gang, domestic violence, and sex crimes as an investigator. He has written five books about police work. Curbchek, the first book, is a case-by-case account of the streets, as he worked them from the start of his 30 career. Streetcreds details the time Zach spent in a gang task force and the cases that occurred. The third book is by far the most gritty: Curbchek-Reload, where Zach is damaged–and dangerously so, suffering from PTSD and the day-to-day violence of working the street. Hero To Zero is Zach’s fourth book and recalls cops he worked with that were incredibly talented but ended up going down in flames–some ended up in jail, prison, and one on the FBI’s ten most wanted list. Released in 2014, Landed On Black covers the constant state of hyper-vigilance required to survive the double crosses and betrayals that occurred on the streets and in the police department.
In the biography I am Raymond Washington, Zach offers an unprecedented illustration of the original founder of the Crips gang. Filled with eyewitness accounts and recollections from friends and family, a complete portrayal is presented of this still enigmatic figure. In addition to winning Book Pipeline, I am Raymond Washington has garnered numerous awards:
– Bronze medal, 2015 IPPY Awards
– Finalist, 2015 IAN Book Awards (both General Non-Fiction and Bio/Memoir categories)
– Bronze medal, 2015 Readers Favorite International Book Awards
– Finalist, 2015 Kindle Book Awards
– Finalist, 2015 USA Today Book Awards
From Book Pipeline: “It can be difficult to strike an unbiased balance when profiling any polarizing individual, let alone one as enigmatic as Raymond Washington, a still lesser-known figure even amongst those familiar with the Crips/Bloods rivalry and the Los Angeles gang landscape from the 60s to the present day. For a former police officer to remain impartial and extract the truth behind one of the country’s most notorious gang leaders? Difficult, indeed.
But Zach Fortier’s exploration into the life and evolution of Raymond Washington considers a number of angles, theories, and stories from the men who witnessed firsthand the formation of the Crips and the true persona of a man most now acknowledge as the real founder of the Crips. The result is a truly compelling narrative. Part biography on Raymond, part exposé into the culture and origins of gang life, Fortier neither glorifies nor vilifies Raymond Washington or his counterparts. As someone with so many years of direct experience working with gangs, Fortier poses a running question here far bigger than Raymond Washington alone: what compels someone to start, join, and stay in an organized gang? What is it about the lifestyle that continues to draw in thousands of young people worldwide every year? Educated assumptions are made by Fortier, but he’s careful not to paint this portrait in black and white.
In its own way, Raymond’s legendary status is the stuff of Godfather-esque proportions on a smaller scale (arguably. . .), yet no less significant in the evolution of urban America. It’s a story relatively limited in scope (Raymond was killed at 25), but broad in social implication—and as such, it’s one with documentary, scripted TV series, and feature film possibilities. A grounded Shakespearean epic taking place in a small collection of neighborhoods in Los Angeles, ripe for adaptation.”