In August, 2012, a middle-aged, white Mt. Vernonite was shot and killed in his neighborhood. The city’s shock and outrage highlighted a disparity in how local media reacted to murders, Baltimore City Paper editor Evan Serpick wrote at the time: “When a white person is killed or is the victim of a serious crime, as with the hapless tourist whose beating and robbery were captured on downtown security cameras earlier this year, it is front-page news, and the source of angst: Is our city safe? It’s hard not to translate the subtext of that angst to, Is our city safe for white people? Because if the general population was concerned about whether or not the city was safe for black people, there would be a whole lot more vigils and angst.”
Several of our very own commenters gave what’s become a typical response: “Innocent victims” deserve vigils, but most of Baltimore’s murder victims are probably somehow themselves to blame — they’re involved in drugs or gangs or other criminal activity. But in a year-end analysis of Baltimore’s 235 homicides in 2013, Baltimore Sun crime reporter Justin Fenton found that just 3 had a known drug motive, and 30 victims were verified gang members. In 164 cases, the motive was listed as “unknown.”
Other relevant stats from Fenton’s analysis: 84 percent of victims were black males; 50.2 percent of cases were closed by Baltimore Police detectives; and 55 percent of those killed were shot in the head.
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