Ghettoside: High Homicide Environments

7Jill Leovy wrote her 2015 book Ghettoside after spending years embedded in the homicide division of a police department in LA and observing the detectives working in areas of LA with the highest murder rates. She comments that male black Americans make up only 6% of the population, but are 40% of the murder victims.[1] In nearly all cases, the murderer is another black man. In LA County, the conviction rate for black murders is 36%.[2] This means too few black killers are convicted and imprisoned.  Leovy comments that black residents complain of police mistreatment but also want more policing to protect them from other black people. A Swedish social scientist, Gunnar Myrdal, studied the black South in the 1940s and recorded that the same complaints were made then.[3]  Many activists and journalists claim that black Americans do not really commit more crime, they just get prosecuted more. The dead bodies of the murdered, and the damaged bodies of the maimed, however, are rather hard to attribute to over-zealous prosecution.[4] For each murder victim, many more are maimed, four to five per murder,[5] who, for instance, end up in wheelchairs for life. Blacks are murdered between two and four times as much as Hispanics in LA, even when they live in the same neighborhoods.[6] Activists tend to want to minimize black on black crime because they are embarrassed by it and presumably because it is not politically expedient. Najee Ali, a prominent activist, compared it to the shame of incest.[7] Some even want to ban the phrase “black on black” crime, as though not talking about it would help anyone. A coroner in LA, inundated with black murder victims, commented that he is disturbed less by the dead bodies than by the grief of the survivors. One mother vomited.  Another shook her little boy’s dead body trying to wake him up.[8] Continue reading