Missouri worst in nation in homicide rate among blacks

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

ST. LOUIS -- The homicide rate among blacks is higher in Missouri than any other state, according to a report released Tuesday by a not-for-profit research group.

The Violence Policy Center report said 32.79 deaths per 100,000 blacks in Missouri were the result of homicides. The report said the overwhelming majority of the deaths were caused by firearms, especially handguns. The Washington-based organization supports gun-control efforts.

Messages seeking comment from the National Rifle Association were not returned.

The report did not break down where the homicides occurred in Missouri, but the majority of killings are in the two largest cities, St. Louis and Kansas City.

The report cites FBI data from the most recent available year, 2005. Pennsylvania, which led the nation last year, was second with 32.14 homicide deaths per 100,000 black residents, followed by Wisconsin (30.49), Indiana (28.70) and Michigan (28.06).

The homicide rate among blacks in Missouri was more than six times the national rate of 5.10 per 100,000 for all residents. The national homicide rate for blacks was 18.84 per 100,000 compared to 2.99 per 100,000 for whites.

"The devastation homicide inflicts on black teens and adults is a national crisis, yet it is all too often ignored outside of affected communities," the report said.

Jamilah Nasheed, a black Democratic state representative from St. Louis, said the city needs to do more to stop killings that are far too common on the north side of St. Louis. She blames poverty and the city's high dropout rate.

"Young people have a sense of hopelessness," Nasheed said. "They don't care about killing themselves, let alone someone on the street. We need strong intervention for those kids to be able to understand that there is hope."

The study found there were 229 black homicide victims in Missouri in 2005 -- 198 men and 31 women. In 85 percent of cases where the weapon could be determined, it was a gun, the report said.

Eighty-one percent of victims were killed by someone they knew.

Nationally, 85 percent of black victims were men, and 81 percent of black victims were killed by guns, the report said.

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