Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Is it ‘fake news’ the way ideologues bandy about the ‘murder capital’ label?

I couldn’t help but be amused by a recent study released by the Pew Research Center – an analysis of the FBI crime statistics of recent years, particularly noting the murder rates of various cities.
Keeping the subways safe. Photos by Gregory Tejeda

It seems that during the past two years, murder rates have been on the rise in cities all across the United States. While I’m not trying to diminish the increases we have seen in Chicago during those two years, perhaps we need to study the concept from the national perspective – instead of taking seriously anything Donald Trump has to say about the city.

WHAT AMUSES ME is the way I’m sure those of us who are ideologically-inclined to think about things will want to discredit this particular study. Because it goes so contrary to the nonsense-talk that the conservative ideologues like to spew these days.

The facts just don’t back up their trash. Which I’m sure means the ideologues will try to claim the study is “fake news.” Something that doesn’t fit their narrative. So rather than correct the narrative, ignore the facts.

For what it’s worth, the study ranked the 30 municipalities in this country with the highest murder rates. As in how many people were killed for every 100,000 people.

For the record, Chicago’s rate is 17.52 murders per 100,000, which ranks the Second City at number 25.

THAT’S JUST AHEAD of Miami, and just behind Philadelphia. Places like Dayton, Ohio, Richmond, Va., and West Palm Beach, Fla., all are more dangerous than Chicago, by this standard.
Leaving Chicago takes one to more dangerous places

And when it comes to the Midwestern U.S., there are three cities that make the Top 10 – none of which are Chicago.

There’s Milwaukee (Number 10, at 24.15 murders per 100,000) and Detroit (Number 3, at 43.82 murders per 100,000).

And finally, filling out the top slot, is Number 1, St. Louis, with a rate of 59.29 murders per 100,000.

I’M SURE THE ideologues aren’t going to want to accept this one bit! They’re yelling and screaming and claiming there has to be something wrong with a study that doesn’t put Chicago at the top of the list, and one in which New York (with a homicide rate of about 7 murders per 100,000 doesn't come close to ranking on top.
No longer patrolling the 'murder capital'

These people who claim they live in the “real America” of small communities that are isolated from such violence, but really are isolated from many of the benefits of our society, will talk trash.

Of course, my own days as a police reporter came not only at a time some three decades ago when Chicago was routinely approaching 1,000 murders per year (a number we haven’t come close to yet in recent years), taught me that violence and crime literally can occur anywhere, and amongst just about anybody.

Among the Top 10 cities in the Pew study is Salinas, Calif. (Number 9, at 25.29 murders per 100,000), not a place people would typically associate with violence.

ONE OTHER ASPECT amused me – the fact that two Indiana cities made the Top 30 list; and neither one of them was Gary. Indianapolis, at 17.12 murders per 100,000, is Number 28, while South Bend, at 16.79 murders per 100,000, is Number 29.
TRUMP: Crime talk is cheap

Of course, Gary’s overall population has shrunk below 100,000 residents (estimated by the Census Bureau at 76,424 people in 2016), making it too small to be considered a significant-enough city for the study. Although I’m sure there are those ideologues who are going to rant that Gary must possibly be the Murder Capital. That is, if it hasn’t been overtaken by Chicago.

That is just a fact of some people living in the past, and in some cases a version of the past that never really existed except in their own minds, which is the only place they achieved a place of superiority within our society.

Besides, the reality of our society is that these kinds of studies do have a certain pointless aspect to them – in that they try to create a sense that some places are more safe than others. When in reality, ANY murder occurring anywhere is tragic – and is one too many.


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