Juan Williams, The Hill, June 28, 2021
Black people are 13 percent of the population but 53.7 percent of America’s murder victims, according to 2019 data.
That makes the current rise in the murder rate very real and scary for me.
I’m frightened because more than half of the people being killed are Black and 86 percent of the Black people being killed are men, like me.
Most men of color know this fear – 81 percent of the Latino murder victims are men too, according to data from Statista.com.
Yet the media only talks about the current spike in murder as if it is part of an overall rise in crime, affecting all races.
The issue is so hot that President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland held a gun and crime summit at the White House last week to announce plans to stop crime from rising higher this summer.
“Protecting our communities from violent crime is a top priority for the Department of Justice,” Garland said. He spotlighted the increase in violent crime as “deeply troubling.”
But Garland did not say the problem is Black men killing other Black men.
Eighty-nine percent of Blacks who were murdered in 2019 were killed by other Black people, according to the FBI.
The FBI’s figures also show 79 percent of murdered whites were killed by other white people. But the wildly disproportionate fact that more than half of all murder victims are Black is just one of the signs of the vulnerabilities on crime and policing that Blacks face and whites do not.
Take the well-founded fear of police, for example. Black men are 2.5 times more likely than a white man to be killed by police, according to the National Academy of Sciences.
And more generally, Black men die by gunfire at twice the rate of white men.
So, the heart of the crime issue for me is that, from childhood, Black men live with the terror of being victims of violence.
Criminal justice experts have no clear explanation for the rise in murders of Black men by other Black men.
But there is no arguing that Black men are the victims of the current murder rage.
And even as Black Americans remain big supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, only 28 percent support calls to defund police, according to a March Ipsos/USA Today poll. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said after the 2020 elections that the slogan “Defund the Police,” hurt Democrats running for Congress. It “is killing our party, and we’ve got to stop it,” he said.
It is also in line with Black voters in New York City who overwhelmingly supported 20-year police veteran Eric Adams in his bid for mayor last week.
A poll taken in New York, an overwhelmingly Democratic city, before the primary found that crime was the number one issue for Democratic primary voters.