Years Have Done Little to Help Local Blacks

Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times, July 14

Forty years after the Watts riots exposed the dismal social conditions afflicting many African American communities, blacks continue to trail other ethnic groups in housing, healthcare and criminal justice, a report issued Wednesday concludes.

Blacks in Los Angeles County are twice as likely as other groups to be victims of violent crimes, their death rates from homicide and HIV/AIDS are more than three times higher than for other racial groups, more blacks receive public assistance and more black children live in poverty.

The findings are included in “The State of Black Los Angeles,” a report by the Los Angeles Urban League and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles presented at a USC conference attended by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, police Chief William J. Bratton and other civic leaders. The report, compiled with U.S. Census, state and county data, includes recommendations for creating jobs, developing affordable housing, expanding parks and establishing prison programs geared to reentry into society.

Particularly disturbing are crime data showing that blacks—adults and juveniles—have arrest rates far higher than other groups. In addition, black and Latino drivers are searched by the LAPD four times more often than whites or Asians, yet only 38% of blacks are found to be carrying illegal items compared with 55% of whites, 65% of Latinos and 54% of Asians.

Villaraigosa said the racial inequalities revealed in the report “should put a chill in our spine.” He called the findings a call to action and said new housing, jobs and education initiatives should be targeted first at poor South Los Angeles neighborhoods.

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• Blacks have the lowest median household income, $31,905, when compared with Latinos at $33,820, Asians at $47,631 and whites at $53,978.

• Although just 10% of the population, blacks are estimated to make up 30% or more of the homeless population.

• Blacks are the target of 56% of hate crimes.

• 44% of black high school students fail to graduate with their class in four years.

• Blacks receive only 5% of all home loans, half as many as their share of the population, while whites—31% of the population—receive 72% of all such loans.

• The premature death rate among blacks of 40.6 (per 100,000 population) far outstrips that of Latinos at 11, whites at 4.5 and Asians at 3.8. The teen death rate at 131.4 is far higher for blacks and is fueled by gang-related homicides.

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“There is a dual justice system,” said John W. Mack, immediate past president of the Los Angeles Urban League. “This is something Chief Bratton and I have had many discussions about. Crime is real, violence is real and out of control in many parts of our community. But (enforcement) must be done in such a way that the sheriff’s and the Police Department are not an occupying force and that not all young men are viewed as gang bangers.”

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He mentioned one of the findings he found “chilling”: An estimated 32% of black men born in Los Angeles in 2001 are likely to go to prison in their lifetime, compared with 17% of Latino men and 6% of white men, the report states.

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