These Stats on Baltimore’s Murder Victims Might Surprise You

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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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