Black people are being murdered at an alarming rate across the country, and St. Louis is all but Ground Zero for those killings. But in the wake of the this weekend’s violent St. Louis demonstrations following the acquittal of a White police officer who shot and killed a Black motorist in 2011, there was another key piece of relevant data that hasn’t evoked nearly as much outrage as Friday’s verdict: Every single murder suspect in St. Louis this year is Black, with nearly 90 percent of the city’s murder victims also being Black.
As of last Tuesday, a total of 96 Black people were considered suspects for the 125 murders committed in the calendar year for 2017, according to a recent “homicide analysis” provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Of that figure, 117 of those people killed were also Black. In contrast, just one Hispanic person and seven White people were murdered in St. Louis this year.
In fact, St. Louis is on pace to see its deadliest year since the 1990s, when crack cocaine was firmly added into the gang warfare and illegal drug equations, the Trace reported this summer.
Local law enforcement officials have credited the spike in murders to the high profile killing of teenager Michael Brown and the subsequent “the Ferguson effect,” named for the St. Louis suburb where then-Officer Darren Wilson said he gunned down the teenager out of fear for his life in 2014. Ever since, murders in St. Louis have continued to grow.
While Black people killing other Black people is undoubtedly a serious problem, it can’t be ignored that about 258 Blacks were killed by police in 2016, according to the Guardian.
In order to confront and end both trends, St. Louis must reflect inward, a local activist told the New York Times in 2015.
“But we’ve got to stop expecting the police to solve the crime problem,” said James Clark of the St. Louis-based Better Family Life, nonprofit organization. “There is a void that the police can’t fill.”