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La. ranks in Top 10 for Black homicides

7th March 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Della Hasselle
Contributing Writer

Once referred to as “the murder capital of America,” a newly published report shows that Louisiana ranks in the Top 10 for the number of Black homicide victims in the nation.

According to the Violence Policy Center, Louisiana has the eighth-highest Black homicide victimization rate in the nation, with a rate of 23.33 Black men and women killed per 100,000 residents.

That statistic is far above the national Black homicide rate, and more than five times the overall homicide rate nationwide, according to the analysis.

The findings were outlined in Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2013 Homicide Data, an annual study that ranks the states according to their Black homicide victimization rates.

The report, which details homicide rates for 2013, the most recent year for which comprehensive data is available, is based on unpublished data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR).

As documented last year in an article “A Matter of Black Lives,” a writer for The Atlantic found a “staggering” statistic that more than 260,000 African Americans had been killed in the United States since 1980.

In New Orleans alone, more than 6,000 African-American men killed in the past 35 years, the article found.

The Violence Policy Center, which has been releasing their annual study on black homicide for 10 years, echoed the sentiment, saying trends show that Black people in the United States are disproportionately killed every year.

In 2013, for example, although Black people represented just 13 percent of the nation’s population, they accounted for half of the country’s homicide victims.

The report also calls for an end to gun violence, underscoring that handguns are “far and away” the number-one murder tool used to kill Black men and women.

“In America, Black men and women face a disproportionate risk of being murdered, a fact both alarming and unacceptable,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “Moreover, our study found that the vast majority of these homicides are committed with guns, usually a handgun. We hope our research will not only help educate the public and policymakers, but aid those national, state, and community leaders who are already working to end this grave injustice.”

In Louisiana, there were 350 Black homicide victims in 2013, according to the report.

That year, the state’s black homicide victimization rate was more than five times the overall national homicide rate, with a staggering 23.33 per 100,000 black men and women killed.

In comparison, the national black homicide rate was 16.91 per 100,000, and the overall national homicide rate was 4.27 per 100,000.

For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 87 percent of the Black homicide victims in Louisiana were shot and killed with guns.

The number was on par with nationwide statistics regarding gun deaths, the report said, as 84 percent of all the country’s Black homicide victims were killed with guns that year.

The report also outlined other details about the crimes, including ages and gender of the victims. In 2013, the Violence Policy Center found 33 homicide victims, or 10 percent of the total, were less than 18 years old.

Only seven victims, or two percent of the total, were 65 years of age or older. The average age was 29 years old.

Of the 350 victims, the report found that most – more than 300 — were male.

Aside from handguns, which accounted for 84 percent of all the Black homicides calculated that year, there were 24 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 14 victims killed by bodily force, and three victims killed by a blunt object.

The report also found that black men and women in Louisiana are likely to be killed by someone they have a relationship with. A total of 85 percent of victims, or 129 out of 152, were killed by someone they knew. Only 23 were killed by strangers.

Moreover, less than half of the homicides in which the circumstances could be identified – 57 percent—were carried out with the commission of another felony. Most of the state’s homicides – 68 percent—involved arguments between the victim and the offender.

Nationally, there were 6,217 Black homicides in America in 2013.

The highest homicide rate of Black men and women in the country fell in Indiana, the report shows, with 213 Black homicide victims in 2013. The homicide rate among Black victims in Indiana was 34.15 per 100,000 in 2013.

A whopping 90 percent of those victims were shot and killed with guns, according to the report.

“The devastation homicide inflicts on Black teens and adults is a national crisis that should be a top priority for policymakers to address,” the report said. “Successful efforts to reduce America’s Black homicide toll, like America’s homicide toll as a whole, must put a focus on reducing access and exposure to firearms.”

This article originally published in the March 7, 2016 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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