Wednesday, March 9, 2011

African American Homicides Represent All of NYC's Homicide Increase

According to the Wall Street Journal, a 31 percent spike in murders of African-Americans in 2010 accounted for all of last year's 14 percent increase in homicides in New York City.

African Americans, who comprise 25 percent of the city's population, accounted for 67 percent of the 536 murders in 2010, according to the report released by the New York Police Department. African American men 15 to 29 years old were most likely to be killed. They make up less than 3 percent of the city's population but last year represented 33 percent of all homicide victims, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The number of Hispanic and Asian murder victims remained "nearly constant," the report states, while the number of murdered whites decreased by 27 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Ric Curtis, an anthropology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the Wall Street Journal he and his colleagues were asked by the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office last year to explore whether gangs are behind the spike; some 11 percent of all murder victims were gang members. But Mr. Curtis said he doesn't necessarily think gangs are to blame. "Whatever it is, it's complex because it's not readily apparent what is causing it."

The murder rate for whites decreased another 27 percent in 2010, that is remarkable. Last fall I wrote about a New York Times article that found from 2003 through 2009, New York City averaged 540 murders a year. White men and women represented, on average, 8 percent of murder victims and 7 percent of killers. That would amount to about 43 white victims of murder each year and about 37 killings by white perpetrators per year, Forty-three white victims of murder in a city of 8.5 million people.

New City is a very safe place to live if you happen to be white, not so safe if your a young black man. New York City, which touts its dramatic decrease in violent crime, should more closely examine violence in terms of race, not just overall violence.

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