by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
I was taking a look at this year’s criminal homicide data so far and noticed two familiar, and disturbing, trends.
First, out of the 55 murders so far, 69 percent of the victims and suspects all had past felony convictions. The other disturbing trend is that African-Americans make up about 27 percent of Indianapolis’ population, but so far in 2017, blacks have been 72 percent of the murder victims.
Let that sink in for a second.
Nearly three-fourths of the murder victims and suspects all had criminal histories. And more than 70 percent of the victims come from less than 30 percent of the population.
Now if there’s anything “positive” in that data, it’s that last year it was about 81 percent of the victims and suspects had criminal records and Blacks made up 77 percent of the murder victims. Unfortunately, while those numbers are “down,” we haven’t even hit the summer months yet.
And what’s even more concerning is that non-fatal shootings are down from 212 last year to 153 this year. That should be good news, but the ratio of non-fatal to fatal shootings was 4:1 last year, this year it’s 3:1.
I am trying to be optimistic when it comes to the city’s effort to stem violent crime this year, but I have to admit it’s getting harder to keep a positive attitude. Don’t get me wrong, what the Hogsett administration wants to do to tackle crime looks good on paper, more summer jobs for youth, more long-term community engagement, adding more police officers; those are all the things you do to help tackle crime.
My question is will any of it work, particularly for reaching a population that seems difficult to reach or doesn’t want to listen? And it has nothing to do with the administration. I’ve been covering city government for more than a decade, and every year it seems there is a new “anti-crime” plan. I saw it under Bart Peterson as well as Greg Ballard. The city and community get upset about crime, they hold news conferences, rallies, social service agencies sound the alarms, and at the end of the day, the same people seem to be hell bent on killing each other.
I am trying not to sink back into my “self-cleaning oven” analogy when it comes to bad guys shooting bad guys, but it gets harder and harder each time I look at the data.
Before I get too cynical and defeatist, I have to remind myself of the work done by groups such as the Ten Point Coalition, 100 Black Men, Indiana Black Expo, Employ Indy and other agencies to reach those who need the help and assistance. However, when I look at the numbers so far this year, all I can say to myself is it’s deja vu all over again.
Abdul is the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.Org. His opinions are his own, but you are welcome to share them.