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The color of murder and gun violence in New York

By Jonathan Capehart

I ran into Police Commissioner Ray Kelly last week while dining at a favorite breakfast joint in New York. Since I still read the Daily News and the New York Post, I asked him about the increase in crime that I'd read about. He assured me that the bad old days in the Big Apple weren't returning. But he did rattle off a set of worrisome crime statistics that have him concerned and left me speechless. If New York City were a murder and shooting gallery, almost all of the targets would be African American and Latino.

Check out these statistics from the "Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City" report for the first six months of 2010.

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter victims are most frequently Black (67.0%) or Hispanic (28.1%). White victims account for (3.2%) of all Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter victims while Asian/Pacific Islanders account for (1.8%) of all Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter victims.

The Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter arrest population is similarly distributed. Black arrestees (53.8%) and Hispanic arrestees (36.4%) account for the majority of Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter arrestees while White arrestees (7.1%) and Asian/Pacific Islander (2.2%) arrestees account for the remaining portions of the Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter arrest population.

Shooting victims are most frequently Black (73.8%) or Hispanic (22.1 %). White victims account for an additional (2.6%) of all Shooting victims while Asian/Pacific Islanders victims account for (1.2%) of all Shooting Victims.

The Shooting arrest population is similarly distributed. Black arrestees (70.9%) and Hispanic arrestees (25.8%) account for the majority of Shooting arrest population. White arrestees (2.5%) and Asian/Pacific Islander (0.9%) account for the remaining portion of the Shooting arrest population.

In short, 95.1 percent of all murder victims and 95.9 percent of all shooting victims in New York City are black or Hispanic. And 90.2 percent of those arrested for murder and 96.7 percent of those arrested for shooting someone are black and Hispanic. I don't even know where to begin to describe the horror I still feel looking at those numbers. But the word "hunted" comes to mind.

People have railed against black-on-black crime for decades. And yet it persists. Yes, there are a host of factors that push someone to a life of crime, but not all of them have to do with the limitations or failures of society. Some folks are just plain evil, and no amount of social intervention will stop them from preying on people, especially people who look like them.

People have also railed -- and rightly so -- against the disproportionate application of the law against people of color. Bob Herbert has used barrels of New York Times ink against the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy. But when faced with such stark murder and shooting statistics, what's a police commissioner supposed to do to ensure the safety of the public?

All of society has an obligation to ensure that its citizens can live their lives in peace and security. The police are doing their job. Leaders in the African American and Latino communities have struggled to do their part, as well. Myriad organizations exist in New York City and across the country to steer the wayward on a better path and to protect potential victims from those who violently veer off it. But new alliances must be formed between the two to get guns off the streets and to break the "stop snitching" culture that allows cases to go unsolved, criminals to go free and communities to cower in fear. It's time to stop being speechless and feeling powerless. It's time the hunted fought back.

Update, 12:05 p.m.: Paul Duggan's story this morning on the murder of Joseph Sharps Jr. shows that what's happening in New York is happening elsewhere. 

By Jonathan Capehart  | November 10, 2010; 9:40 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Profiling is illegal, hadn't you heard?

Posted by: staterighter | November 10, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Capehart, you've manned up. You've admitted publicaly the problem that everyone in America knew about but that no one was allowed to say or write about. You've begun to do you part to get these two communities back on path.

Now what about the rest of us. The pastors, the politicians, the demogogues, the speechifiers, the fat cat office holders, the teachers, the PARENTS? Capehart please keep at it...although by doing your duty, you likely will become lumped with Bill Cosby and Uncle Tom.

Posted by: wjc1va | November 10, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Capehart was so close. Over 90% of these crimes are commited by blacks/hispanics against blacks/hispanics. So, how is the law disproportionately applied against these "people of color"? Does he dispute the guilt or merely the prosecution of the guilty?

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | November 10, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes indeed Mr. Capehart. Blacks and Latinos are hunted, attacked and killed in this country. Unfortunately they are being cut and gunned down by the Man in the Mirror: themselves.

We are the ones we have been laying in wait for.

Posted by: adamnescot1 | November 10, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"People have railed against black-on-black crime for decades"

Is black-on-hispanic or black-on-white crime less evil?

Posted by: Jmacaco4 | November 10, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Mr Capehart,

when NYC gets the message & starts issuing CCW" permits to law-abiding people on a "shall issue" basis", the "________ on _________" (that's any color/group on any color/group!) violent crime will fall to very low rates, just as the murder/assault/burglary/armed robbery rate fell in my home state (within 6 months), when our Department of Public Safety started issuing "CCW" permits "on a wholesale basis" =====> sadly for the "prophets of doom, gloom & bloodshed" (like the "journalists" at "the washington COMpost" & "The NY SLIMES", for example) the crime rate did not rise, but rather fell since "ordinary citizens" might well be armed & able to defend themselves with gunfire.
(cowardly armed criminals prefer unarmed victims.)

fwiw, i was a Military Police officer for well over 26 years, was stationed in numerous states/cities/foreign countries & there is no relationship between "the total number of guns on the street" & crime rates but an increase of the number of "lawful gun-carriers" decreases crime.

yours, Retired MP46

Posted by: retiredMP46 | November 10, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

You just figured out that this problem exists in DC too? I also disagree with the notion that the disproportionate representation of blacks and Latinos as victims and perpetrators of homicides justifies police sweeps -- in the form of unconstitutional application of stop and frisk law. This sounds a lot like using unlawful means to stop terrorism. A lot of cops are doing their job, but some of them violate the law. Having a cop make an illegal stop and frisk can result in the exclusion of evidence in a trial. You should not encourage cops to invade the rights of minorities in order to protect them!

Posted by: darrren12000 | November 10, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

You just figured out that this problem exists in DC too? I also disagree with the notion that the disproportionate representation of blacks and Latinos as victims and perpetrators of homicides justifies police sweeps -- in the form of unconstitutional application of stop and frisk law. This sounds a lot like using unlawful means to stop terrorism. A lot of cops are doing their job, but some of them violate the law. Having a cop make an illegal stop and frisk can result in the exclusion of evidence in a trial. You should not encourage cops to invade the rights of minorities in order to protect them!

Posted by: darrren12000 | November 10, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

PS: The vast majority of crimes are INTRAracial. So, whites kill whites, etc. The issue isn't really "black on black" murders, but murders generally. Why do people kill? These numbers would not be any better if they were interracial. Homicide is a grave social problem. Trying to prevent by using notions of racial cohesion is doomed to fail.

Posted by: darrren12000 | November 10, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

The claim by the retired military police officer that making concealed carry permits widely available is the solution to the problem of urban violence is ridiculous. NYC is one of the safest cities in the U.S. partly because guns are more scarce there than they are in most other cities. The research that suggested that more lax CCW laws led to less violence has been found by an independent group of expert researchers (assembled by the National Acadenmy of Sciences) to have major flaws. Studies that correct for the flaws either find no effects or that the laws were associated with more violence.

On the issue of stop and frisk, it is possible for well-trained and supervised police units to lawfully look for signs of illegal guns. I've witnessed this myself and I've reviewed several studies evaluating the effects of these special units. Every study has shown the approach led to significant reductions in shootings.

A public health, community-based program (Ceaefire out of Chicago) involving outreach to high-risk youth and mediation of conflicts in neighborhoods with historically high levels of violence have also been shown to reduce shootings.

There are solutions. We just need to commit ourselves to stoping the violence.

Posted by: dwebster | November 11, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

dwebster; all,

to "dwebster": in what UNIVERSE is NYC "one of the safest cities in the US"? = that is not only FALSE but it makes you look SILLY. =====> laughing AT you!
(fyi, i was once stationed in NYC & still visit friends there from time to time.)

i know that "gun control" is one of the "main tenants" of the clue-LESS LEFT & the DIMocRATS party but it is one of the most ridiculous of those "concoctions" of equal parts: wishful thinking, arrogant ignorance of the facts, nonsense & (in many cases) INTENTIONAL DISHONESTY.

in point of fact (NOT my opinion), EVERY major city that has "shall issue" CCW permits is less violent & less crime-ridden than NYC and/or our nations MURDER CAPITOL, Washington, DC. = period. end of story. - in some cases, the violent crime rate fell over 1/3 in the year after "shall issue" CCW permits became the law.
(you won't see/hear that in the "main-SLIME media", as it makes "the press" look both SILLY & DISHONEST!)

to all: IF "the number of guns on the street" was any indication of violence causation, the Swiss Republic would be blood-DRENCHED. in fact, the cities of SZ are some of the LEAST violent of major world cities.
(btw, WHERE/WHEN did the "horrible bloodbath" happen, which the press said would immediately follow the SCOTUS decision to allow handguns to be lawfully owned/possessed in DC? - did i perhaps sleep though "the massive crime-wave" OR could it be that, once more, the press has LIED TO everyone & "played" their readers/viewers for FOOLS?)

to ALL: you might want to check out the state of VERMONT, which has essentially NO "gun control" (any law-abiding citizen can carry concealed or unconcealed, without any "paperwork", throughout that state.) & LITTLE violemt crime, either.- in some years, the entire state has less violent crimes than DC does in a week!

just my opinion. - i DO NOT & CANNOT speak officially for our county's TEA PARTY group, absent a vote on each issue.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 11, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

This is why shows like "Law and Order" really torque me off. They portray murder in New York and the other cities they are set in as 95% white. It's pure PC racism, popularity is no excuse. Is it really asking too much that they portray murderers in New York as being (let's be generous here) 50% non-white?

Posted by: jarrod82b | November 15, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

jarrod82b; all,

that's why TV shows like LAW & ORDER are called: FICTION
and
why TV is popularly/CORRECTLY called: "the boob tube".

anybody, who believes the NONSENSE on any "entertainment series" to be FACTUAL, is too pitiful mentally to even be despised.

to ALL: IF you are as disgusted as the members of the TEA PARTY are with the MESS that the elitist DIMocRATS & "the ruling class" have made of our nation, join the local TEA PARTY in your city/county/parish & help us RESTORE the USA to being a Constitutional Republic.
you will be warmly welcomed & quickly "put to work" to help us fix the mess that BHO & his motley crew of fools, bigots, nitwits, corrupt union bosses, Daley-machine thugs & just plain common criminals have have made in the last 2 years.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 16, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Do try to keep up, texasnative46. The issue isn't whether it's FACTUAL, the issue is that it's racist. You see, that matters even when the racism is FICTION, though you're clearly not capable of understanding that. All you see is that someone is criticizing your fave-oh-rite TeeVee shows and that might someday deprive you of the simple pleasure you get from watching them, any social ills such shows might contribute to doesn't interest you in the least because you can't pick the concept up and put it in your mouth, therefore it's beyond your ken.

Posted by: jarrod82b | November 17, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

jarrod82b,

IF you were even HALF as intelligent as you believe you are, you MIGHT have understood what i said. - PITY, that you evidently are NOT smart enough to "get the message" that i was AGREEING with you.

the GARBAGE & FOOLISHNESS that is American "prime time" TV, is the MAIN reason that i seldom watch any "cop show" since HOMICIDE, LIFE ON THE STEEET ended some years ago. ===> i was "pinned to the badge" as a IG investigating officer (for the Army) for FAR too long to believe ANYTHING on "L&O" or any similar show.

yours, TN46
USA, Retired

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 17, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

jarrod82b,

IF you were even HALF as intelligent as you believe you are, you MIGHT have understood what i said. - PITY, that you evidently are NOT smart enough to "get the message" that i was AGREEING with you.

the GARBAGE & FOOLISHNESS that is American "prime time" TV, is the MAIN reason that i seldom watch any "cop show" since HOMICIDE, LIFE ON THE STEEET ended some years ago. ===> i was "pinned to the badge" as a IG investigating officer (for the Army) for FAR too long to believe ANYTHING on "L&O" or any similar show.

yours, TN46
USA, Retired

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 17, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

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