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by Peter Moskos

July 24, 2008

Baltiore homicide by the numbers

Back in January, the Baltimore City Paper published a good simple analysis of homicide numbers in 2007. I was just looking at it again. As we all know, violence is not equally spread out in society. It may not be politically correct to talk about race and violence, but homicide in America is disproportionately a problem of black-on-black young male gun violence concentrated in poor communities with public drug dealing. It's concentrated in places like the Eastern District. The question, of course, is what are we going to do about it?

There were 282 murder victims in Baltimore City.
261 (94%) were African-American (the city itself is 65% black).
258 (91%) were male.
233 (83%) were shot.
The youngest was 2.
The oldest was 82.
The Eastern District took the crown this year with 50 homicides.


Anonymous said...

Obviously public drug dealing grossly inflates the stats, but it's probably more than that. It seems to me that black Americans have taken all the hostility that has been heaped on them and turned it in to vicious contempt for one another. Too many, especially the young, seem to believe that black life is cheap, even though they may mouth "black power" style rhetoric when they feel wronged by whites or the police (or when they want to divert attention from their illegal/unethical activities). Just listen to the way the kids in the ghetto talk down to one another! Could these numbers persist for two to three generations in black communities (as they have in my area) if self-hatred, along w/ organzined crime, were not involved. If a cop shoots a brother, plan on hearing the "long hot summer" rhetoric from the ministers. If a black kid that's "in the game" kills another black kid, the silence is deafening. Wow, "stop snitchin'" really showed those police didn't it?

DJK said...

It seems that there's nothing you can do about it. These people seem to want to be in this position. What's more is that it all seems to be perpetuated by the entertainment they choose; music/tv shows/movies/etc. Why, if they want to "come up" must they sing about killing each other and killing cops and shit like that? So, they listen to rappers in their cars when their 2 year olds are in the car when they're out at 2 am and they expect their kids to be wholesome productive individuals later in life???

PCM said...

But that's why I asked not what are "they" going to do about it but what are "we" going to do about it. We as a country. We as human beings.

I find the status quo wrong both at both an economic and moral level.

DJK said...

Why should I do anything about it? Why is it the country's problem other than it's our problem? Shouldn't change start within? Until they are willing to help themselves....why should anybody else lift a finger?

PCM said...

Because these problems affect all of us including those who live there and are willing to help themselves.

I'm not ready to give up on Baltimore or any other city. And I don't want to pay the prison bill for everybody, either.

Some people want to help themselves, others don't give a damn. But in an area like the Eastern, those who don't give a damn fuck it up for those who do try and do the right thing.

And for crying out loud, this is America. We should be embarrassed to have some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world.

During any given year, a 15 to 34-year-old man in the Eastern District has about the same chance of being murdered as a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq has of being killed.

It's just wrong, no matter who's at fault.

DJK said...

PCM, I don't disagree with you... What I do disagree with, anymore, is being counterproductive. Trying to help someone who only resents you more for trying isn't a recipe for success. Do we need more govt programs that give stuff away? Where is their incentive? I think their incentive is to get the hell out of the position they're in...but they relish it. They perpetuate it by teaching their ways to their children.

It's a real bummer that there are good people caught up in it. There are kids that want to grow up and be a doctor or a teacher or whatever...but their dad is still selling drugs or isn't around or is dead.

My incentive is to do well so that my kids can have more than I have. I'm no doctor or even scholarly person so I really might not have a leg to stand on but if I give you a sandwich or a buck or whatever and you slap me in the face....well, f**k off.

The people we're talking about have to do some of the work....and I don't mean work like Jesse Jackson...he's as much of the problem as anyone/anything.

DJK said...

It's funny...while I was typing that I got a phone call from an associate. He was telling me about his recent trip to the "inner city" of Chicago. He was there to help restore some row homes or something. For free....for the people. People were taunting them, calling them names. Things like, "Ohhhhh honkey, you in the wrong hood" "don't you see you the wrong color" and things like that. that's what I mean... he's there, volunteering his time to help the people of that area and they don't want them there. So, do they really want any help?

PCM said...

Look, you can't judge a neighborhood by the assholes.

This may surprise you, but I've always been skeptical of volunteer work to benefit unemployed people.

I mean, why help in a soup kitchen? If homeless people have anything, it's time. Why not pay a homeless person to ladle soup? Often the work seems to benefit the volunteer more than the community.

Volunteer work is great if there's been a major disaster, if there's a cause you believe in, or if people can't help themselves.

But the problems in the ghetto are both cultural and economic. And simply going in there to help "those people," well, as well intentioned as it is, something about that rubs me the wrong way, too. I mean, he wasn't giving them anything they couldn't do themselves (the fact that they don't do it is another important matter).

What they do need is safe streets, better schools, better parents, and jobs. He couldn't give them any of that.

And arguable (though not likely) he was taking away a job from some local person who might have been paid for his labors.

Have you read Venkatesh's "Gang Leader for a Day"? I'd really be interested in your comments. It's got great descriptions of life in public housing in Chicago. (I was born in Chicago, by the way) It helps explain why it's so tough to have get out of the hood.

DJK said...

I never thought of the inner city volunteer work that way. He went with his church. I'm not sure if that adds anything to it. But what you say makes a ton of sense.

I'll put Venkatesh on the reading list. I just started "Dispatches" by Michael Herr. Pretty good so far.