The growing level of violent crime in the black American community is abhorrent. A recent study by the New York Times reported that sixty-one percent of all homicides in New York City are perpetrated by black Americans. A firearm is used seventy percent of the time. Despite generally declining crime rates, gun violence in urban areas is skyrocketing. In an open letter to President Obama, New York State Senators Bill Perkins and Eric Adams put these numbers in perspective:
No statistic is more telling than the fact that during this period the number of homicides in our one city, thirty-four hundred and ten, nearly matches the exact number of American casualties, thirty-four hundred and sixty-three for the entire Iraq war during the exact time. Put another way, we have, within the confines of New York City, during this brief period, lost hundreds more people to homicide than were lost on September 11th. Multiply that fact to cities across America and you will see the potential scale of the epidemic.
And indeed, New York is fairly representative of the spike in gun violence that is besetting urban centers across the country. The numbers are frightening. A recent study published by Northeastern University reported that even as violent crimes are decreasing across the nation, the number of black youths involved in fatal shootings is skyrocketing.
According to the report, "From 2002 to 2007, the number of homicides involving black male juveniles as victims rose by 31% and as perpetrators by 43%. In terms of gun killings involving this same population subgroup, the increases were even more pronounced: 54% for young black male victims and 47% for young black male perpetrators.”
According to statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, nearly 10 percent of black people arrested for murder in 2007 were under the age of 18. Black males between the ages of twenty and twenty-four years old constitute less than eight percent of the total population yet are responsible for nearly half the violent crime in this country.
This spike in homicides involving black male juveniles must be regarded as one of the greatest scourges facing the black community. As noted author and political science professor, James Clarke, observed, “as the 20th century comes to a close, more black males will be incarcerated in prison than go to college.”
A Three-Part Tragedy