Spike in Black Murders in New York City Baffles Police

Spike in Black Murders in New York City Baffles Police

The murder rate involving African-American victims was up 31 percent last year in New York City.

Published March 9, 2011

New crime statistics from the New York Police Department say the murder rate in New York City was up 14 percent in 2010. That’s frightening, but it’s nothing compared this: Murders of African-Americans were up 31 percent last year, while there was a 27 percent decrease in white victims. Why are Blacks getting killed at exponentially higher numbers than their white counterparts?

Black victims comprised 67 percent of all the murders reported in 2010, despite being only a quarter of the city’s population. Beyond that, a full third of all murder victims were African-American males ages 15 to 29. As Gothamist notes, this demographic makes up only 3 percent of New York City’s total citizenry.

Interestingly, 42 percent of 2010’s murders happened in Brooklyn.

Exacerbating this already depressing news is that police have no idea why there’s been a spike in the killings. Ric Curtis, a professor of anthropology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told the Wall Street Journal that the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office asked him and his colleagues to try and get to the bottom of the increase, but he says they’ve not yet been able to pin it down. “Whatever it is, it's complex,” he said, “because it's not readily apparent what is causing it.”

The good news is that the murder rate for 2011 is already down. Through February, killings were down in New York City by 21 percent. But that’s of little comfort to the families of last year’s 536 victims, many of whom still haven’t found out who’s responsible for their loss, and never will.


Photo:  Matthew Peyton/Getty Images

Written by Cord Jefferson


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