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Community Activist Sheds Light on Black Homicide Victimization in Missouri

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(photo credit: stock exchange)

(photo credit: stock exchange)

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By Carol Daniel and Tanya Sinkovits

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A recent study by the Violence Policy Center has spelled out what one local man already knew. Crime against young black men are at unacceptable levels, and needs to be addressed and stopped.

According to the annual study, Missouri is the second highest state for black homicide victimization.

The study ranks the states according to their black homicide victimization rates. It is based on unpublished data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). The study refers to homicide rates in 2011, the most recent year for which comprehensive national data is available.

According to the study there were 235 black murder victims in Missouri in 2011, resulting in a homicide rate of 33.38 per 100,000. That year, the national black homicide rate was 17.51 per 100,000, and the overall national homicide rate was 4.44 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide rate was 2.64 per 100,000.

The study goes even further.

In Missouri:

  • The average age for a black homicide victim was 31 years old.
  • Out of 235 victims, 206 were male.
  • 92 percent died from a gunshot wound. 61 percent of them were killed by a handgun.
  • Most of the victims, 73 percent were murdered by someone they knew.


James Clark, vice president of community outreach for Better Family Life says he realizes there is a sub-culture in the urban core where “crime and violence is accepted.”

He blames that on lack of education and respect. Better Family Life tries to give those boys and men a new vision of themselves to combat the message that they are nothing.

“So the first thing we do is we give them a thorough understanding that you are a child of God you have to be responsible to yourself, your family and your neighborhood,” Clark said.

The current methods of hot spot policing from the St. Louis police department have been highly praised by outsiders, but Clark believes that is not what the community needs, suggesting hot spot resourcing would bear better outcomes.

“If we aren’t literally in our neighborhoods going door-to-door doing assessments on everyone in the household and then delivering the resources to meet the needs of the individuals in the households this will only get worse,” he explained.

The list of resources Clark seeks is long. He said, “We need prenatal care, we need alcohol and drug treatment, we need clinical evaluations, we need employment.”

The top states with the highest black homicide victimization rates in 2011 were Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

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