It's not drugs.
|Data available here (courtesy of SBPDL)|
It's not the legacy of slavery or James Crow.
It's not the economy or unemployment ("Why? Were you drinking? Insider trading
It's simply race.
Poor impulse control.
Lack of future time-orientation.
An inability to maintain the civilization set by white people.
A regression to the black mean of nature.
Philadelphia, the Bell Curve Tolls for thee. [Murder Mysteries Philadelphia: The deadliest year since 1997 defies easy explanation., Philadelphia Inquirer, 1-1-2006]
The fatal shooting of Richard Johnson, an honors student at St. Joseph's Preparatory School, generated a flurry of news stories for a few days this summer - until his funeral.
Then, the media moved on to fresher mayhem and 17-year-old "Rick" became a statistic - another chalk mark in Philadelphia's most deadly year since 1997.
As homicide rates in many large cities are dropping, the number in Philadelphia has increased 11 percent since 2004 - one of the sharpest jumps in the United States. In 2005, Philadelphia police recorded 380 homicides.
Prior surges in the homicide rate had easy explanations. Gangs. Crack. The economy.
Not this time.
"I don't think anybody could just give an instant answer," said State Rep. Dwight Evans, a Philadelphia Democrat who has been leading antiviolence efforts.
Experts find clues in police statistics. Seventy percent of Philadelphia's homicides involved young men in arguments. Some argued over drugs, but many feuded for far less.
"If you look locally and nationally, all the change and trends in homicide really have to do with young males," said James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University in Boston. "They tend to be trigger-happy and tend to be willing to pull the trigger even over trivial issues."
The city's killers prefer guns. Eight of every 10 victims died from bullet wounds - a percentage higher than in most other cities. Eighty percent of 2005's victims were black men, and about 40 percent were younger than 23, police statistics show. Forty-five were 18 or younger.
In many ways, Rick Johnson was typical of those lost: young, black and shot to death over an argument. The argument, however, involved two other teens.
A mural on a corner store at Seventh and Courtland Streets in Hunting Park memorializes 21-year-old Mark Cruz. He was shot to death on April 27 during a fight over his gold chain and Jesus amulet.
His mother, Wendy Maldonado, 38, said Cruz had gone to the corner store for a sandwich but encountered two men who robbed him of his necklace and money.
Cruz ran home and, joined by a cousin, raced after the robbers to recover the chain, Maldonado said. The cousins soon caught up with the men.
The four men were arguing over the chain, Maldonado said, when a fifth man - Johnathan Santiago - fired a gun five times, hitting Cruz in the stomach. Police said Santiago was gunning for the robbers.
"He was just somebody who wanted to take matters into his own hands," Maldonado said. "Nobody asked him to bring a gun."
Maldonado arrived in time for the ambulance ride with her son to Temple University Hospital.
"He was still alive," she recalled. "He was gasping and trying to say something."
Cruz, who did not have a gun, died soon after reaching the hospital. Santiago, of the 4900 block of Ormes Street, was charged with murder and firearms violations; he had no license. His trial has been scheduled for June 21.
The months since the death of her son have been unkind to Maldonado, who is a guard in federal buildings in Philadelphia. She has been unable to sleep and is afraid for her remaining four children, the youngest of whom is 2.
She called 911 recently when she heard gunfire near her home. A man had been shot to death after crashing his car in the 600 block of Wingohocking Street - just around the corner.
"People tell me I should move," she said. "But where will I go?"
Bilal Qayyum, cofounder of Men United for a Better Philadelphia, said some killings seem to flow from violence-soaked music and "Stop Snitching" fashion.
But he also blames the larger community.
"If white kids were dying on the streets like black kids are dying on the streets, this city would come to a standstill," Qayyum said. "White people would not stand for it."White kids aren't dying in the streets, because white kids aren't pulling the triggers of guns that cause white kids to die in the streets of Philadelphia. Black kids are doing the pulling and the dying.
Since 2007, 81 percent (1048 out 1290) of known suspects in the homicides in Philadelphia have been black -- only seven percent have been white, while 10 percent have been Hispanic.
And yet, the ACLU still complains about stop and frisk in Philadelphia [Ex-Philly cop: Stop-and-frisk is 'demeaning', Philadelphia Inquirer, 10-11-2013]:
HERBERT Spellman gave nearly 20 years of his life to the Philadelphia Police Department, retiring in 2008 after a driver rear-ended his police cruiser, knocking him unconscious and sending him to the emergency room.
His body still hurts as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash. But Spellman's pride took a beating more recently.
On Sept. 10, walking to a bus stop in West Oak Lane, Spellman found himself on the other side of the police department's controversial stop-and-frisk policy, he said.
"Demeaning," "nasty," "ridiculous" and "illegal" are the words that come to his mind when he recounts the incident. They weren't police tactics he recognized from his time on the force.
"I'm walking, and the cops come up on an angle. Two officers jump out of the car and grab me by my shirt and pants," Spellman said. "I asked them why they stopped me, and the driver said, 'Why did you look at us and turn and walk away?' "
Spellman, 50, a married father of four, said the officers went through his wallet without his permission, forcefully frisked him and put him in the back of the police cruiser. He said they asked why he was "so far from home," accused him of being on drugs and told him to "shut the f--- up" when he asked why he was being stopped. His cellphone screen was shattered in the process.
It doesn't work'
Spellman's allegations are all too familiar to Paul Messing, a civil-rights lawyer who is working with the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to monitor the stop-and-frisk program as part of a 2011 legal settlement. In a report to U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell in March, Messing and the ACLU flagged an "intolerably high level" of unlawful pedestrian stops in Philly.
The group's analysis concluded that nearly half of the 215,000 stops last year were made without reasonable suspicion of a crime. Minorities accounted for 76 percent of the stops and 85 percent of the frisks, according to the report. The ACLU estimated that guns were recovered in 0.16 percent of stops, according to an analysis of police sample data.
"A program that was designed to find guns is not accomplishing that goal," Messing said. "It doesn't work. All these folks are having their rights violated for nothing."A program that doesn't consider 91 percent (were 'no snitching' to not be a pervasive form/strategy of communication with police in Philadelphia, you're talking 95 percent) of homicide suspects in Philadelphia being non-white, you are talking about a programs that won't accomplish the goal of making the city safe for civilization.
The Bell Curve Tolls for thee, Philadelphia.