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"538:" In 59 Biggest Cities, Homicides in 2015 Up 16%

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Before and After

A New York Times article reporting on a sharp increase in homicides over the last year in places like Milwaukee, Baltimore and St. Louis led to much tut-tutting from outlets like Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight about how this was cherrypicking and all around Bad Science .

So now FiveThirtyEight has rounded up the homicide numbers for 59 of the 60 biggest cities in the country for, as close as they can measure, for 2014 before Michael Brown’s death on August 9, 2014 and for the same stretch in 2015. Here’s how they spin their analysis:

Scare Headlines Exaggerated The U.S. Crime Wave

A full list of the top 60 cities gives a more nuanced picture.



If you’ve read reports of a U.S. crime wave this year and wondered how many cities it was really affecting, you’re not alone. We’ve spent the last week trying to answer that question and have compiled 2015 homicide data for nearly all of the 60 biggest cities. The results confirm that there has been an increase in homicides this year in big U.S. cities of about 16 percent.

But that doesn’t come close to reversing the long-term decline in homicides. And it’s a less dire picture than the one painted by reports in several large media outlets, which generally highlighted those cities that have suffered the biggest increase in homicides.

The reports have been based on just a small, possibly cherry-picked sampling of cities. The country’s broken crime-data system makes it impossible to know what’s happening everywhere, and the “if it bleeds, it leads” journalistic imperative means the places we hear about often are the biggest outliers.

Wait a minute, what did you say somewhere in there? Oh, yeah, here’s the actual finding of FiveThirtyEight’s number crunching.

The results confirm that there has been an increase in homicides this year in big U.S. cities of about 16 percent.

Wow, that’s horrible.

A better headline might be:

“Scare Headlines about the U.S. Crime Wave Vindicated:
Homicides Up 16% in 59 Biggest Cities Versus Last Year”

I went through FiveThirtyEight’s table and added up all the homicides. In these 59 cities, the total number of homicides in 2014 through approximately August 8, 2014 was 2,955. Through the same period this year, the total number of homicides has been 3,437 for an increase of 482 more dead human beings.

How much of this has been the fault of the campaign by #BlackLivesMatter, the Justice Department, the Soros Foundation, and the national media to demonize police as white racists out to murder black baby bodies? We can get some idea by looking at the two cities most focused upon by the Great and the Good: Baltimore and St. Louis (next door to Ferguson).

In absolute terms, the biggest increase in dead bodies in 2015 came in Baltimore, the 26th biggest population town, with an increase in homicides of 77 from 138 to 215. That’s an increase of 56%.

The second biggest increase in absolute number of dead bodies was in St. Louis, which is only the 60th most populous municipality. But it happens to be next door to Ferguson, where the Eye of Soro came to be so malevolently focused from August 2014 onward. Before Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, there were 85 homicides in St. Louis in 2014. Over the same stretch in 2015, there have been 136, for an increase of 51 dead bodies or 60%.

So, just in the two cities where the media obsession with #BlackLivesMatter has been most ferocious, there has been a year to year increase from 223 homicides to 351 homicides: that’s 128 incremental deaths. That 128 represents 27% of the total increase of 482 dead bodies across the 59 biggest cities.

What percentage of the increase of 482 homicide victims are blacks killed by black? Judging by where the biggest increases in absolute numbers are found, I would guesstimate a very high percentage:

Baltimore: 77 incremental homicides

St. Louis: 51

Chicago: 50

Milwaukee: 45

Houston: 44

Washington: 32

New Orleans: 22

Louisville: 21

New York: 18

Tulsa: 18

The top 5 cities (Baltimore, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Houston) account for 55% of the extra 482 homicides, and the top 10 account for 78%.

My guess would be that in most years in these cities, a huge fraction of their homicides are blacks killing blacks. So it’s likely a large fraction of the worsening from January 1 through August 8, 2014 (i.e., 2014 before Ferguson) to the same time period in 2015 is comprised of an increase in blacks killing blacks.


A lot of highly respectable institutions have some statistical blood on their hands.

P.S. I’ve created a graph here.


60 Comments to ""538:" In 59 Biggest Cities, Homicides in 2015 Up 16%"

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  1. It’s almost as if blacks behave better when they think their crimes will be severely punished, and behave poorly when they think they can get away with whatever.

    • Agree: Seminumerical
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  2. Forgotten US History: The Mexican “Repatriations” of the 1930s

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  3. It is amazing that the NYT has any readership given its propensity for misleading headlines and, worse, outright lies. Were it occasional, nobody would care much but, even from just reading Steve, one learns it is endemic. It is a miracle the paper survives but, that they thrive, lacks a proper descriptor. It must be that Times’ readers don’t ever read Steve or his colleagues thus are unaware of the paper’s failings.

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  4. In this case, the NYT’s article on a sharp rise in homicides in a handful of cities was much denounced by Goodthinkers for cherrypicking bad news. Nate Sailer’s publication tried to show how Bad Science the NYT’s article was, only to find out there is a 16% increase in homicide across the 59 of the 60 biggest cities for which they could find data.

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  5. I wonder what the percentage rise is going to be post Merkel inviting the middle east into Europe.

  6. I’ve never seen anyone reading anything but the Arts and Real Estate sections of the NYT. And I’ve been looking hard, for about 15 years now.

  7. And it’s a less dire picture than the one painted by reports in several large media outlets, which generally highlighted those cities that have suffered the biggest increase in homicides.

    This is also dishonest spin from 538.

    The reports looking at Baltimore and St Louis showed 128 more murders than the year before. 538′s more comprehensive study shows 482 more murders.

    That means their analysis paints a more dire picture than what we had before.

    A “less dire picture” would be if murder had declined in other cities enough to totally offset the increase in murders in cities hit by the Black Lives Matter murder sprees.

    Early reports only showed that murder was up in the handful of “cherry picked” cities. Their report not only confirms this, but shows that murder is also up in many other cities. That is worse, not better.

  8. I had exactly the same reaction. I even tweeted in response to the 538 tweet announcing this study that the verbiage clashed with the data and that this was a disgrace. First, 16% is a lot. Second, “In 16 of the 59 cities, there was a [statistically] significant increase; we’d expect about three cities to show an increase that big by chance alone. In two cities — Boston and Arlington — there was a [statistically] significant decrease.”

    The main centers of gentrification are NYC and DC, +9% and +44%, respectively. San Francisco is +25%, Chicago, which gentrified somewhat, is +20%, Austin is +50%, Seattle is +20%, Portland is +27%. Swipple land is hurting. Blood on the bike lane.

    If this is the beginning of the end of the gentrification trend, this is huge. Where would hipsters run? Back to the suburbs, because their parents are still there and because they know the places where they grew up well. Someone’s going to make a killing in suburban real estate.

    Or it could be a blip. Steve, you have a good ear for social trends. Do you think this is long-term?

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  9. Obviously a Hate Thought….

  10. Get a life hombre! A 16% rise is acceptable, if it were 17% now that would be news!

  11. Baltimore and St Louis were “cherry picked”?

    But who first picked those cherries? Wasn’t it the people who turned the Michael Brown and Freddie Gray cases into teaching moments, facts be damned?

    Why wouldn’t one expect that in those communities the blowback would be the worst?

  12. I’d hate to see what those numbers look like compares to percentage of blacks.

    In the top 20:

    Philly (+4) notorious civil rights abuser Charles Ramsey still the Chief.
    Phoenix (0)
    San Diego (-5)
    Jacksonville (No idea on number of blacks, assume it is high)
    Ft. Worth
    Detroit (interesting)
    Corpus Cristi
    Santa Ana

    Overall, hispanics aren’t killing each other, blacks are going crazy.

  13. says:
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    looks like the media’s incitement to anti-white violence has mostly got lots of black people killed

    #oops #nyt

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  14. For more comprehensible stories, get media outlets to produce charts and graphs.
    Those would supplement, not supplant, the text.
    They tend to write around topics instead of addressing them head-on.

    Consultants will tell you to get the data as that should be the primary focus.
    The interpretation and conclusion follows, instead of leading them.

    FBI agents, among others, follow the investigation where the data leads.

    One message in the above is that initial impressions are typically incomplete and misinformed.
    For a journalist to contravene those obvious steps is malpractice.

  15. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    So you think it has dawned on Obama and Co. that the racial agitation strategy has gotten out of hand and is backfiring and now they’re affirmatively trying to back-off (i.e. Justice Dept. announcing a new focus on White Collar crime).

    Or is the initiative on White Collar crime merely throwing a bone to the liberal anti-Wall Street base, and something done without a behind-the-scenes recognition of error in governance?

  16. WGG [AKA "World's Greatest Grandson"]
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Cue the excuse machine. I predict at least one leftist rag will blame it on global warming i.e. either true or manipulated data which shows 2015 was hotter than 2014. Others will blame mistrust of the racist cops. The “no snitching” axiom was surely just a way for simple , God-fearing pickaninnies to avoid a joint police/Klan lynching. Swing low, sweet chariot.

  17. if you guy by their actions, and not by their rhetoric, Black Lives only matter when a white man gets involved. If a black man should die by another black man, or a non-white, there are no crowds, no moral panic. White Lives are what drives the movement and its attention. The most boring event in the world to these people is a murder that takes place without a White Body holding the smoking gun or just being involved.

    Want to convince the group that a black life mattered? Get a white man involved, because only White Lives Matter to them.

  18. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    I wonder if they care? I mean if their incitement creates a black victim to white victim ratio and the ratio is 5:1 is that okay and 20:1 too much or does the ratio not matter as long as at least one white person is killed?

    I’m not saying incitement to murder white people is the aim – they use it as a political weapon for divide and rule – but you wonder if it bothers them at all.

  19. Is this “Nate Sailer” fellow your proverbial evil twin?

  20. from skimming the list, it seems like “a lot of blacks” and “run by liberals” are factors in the cities that have big increases. I.e. the criminals know the power structure is on their side.

    whereas cities with fewer blacks are having less of an increase.

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  21. In 2014, the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta only had 30 homicides.

    Per year Baltimore averages way more homicides than Calgary in pure raw numbers, even though Calgary has a population of over 1,200,000 people while Baltimore’s is significantly lower at about 622,000.

    Why does a city with a population as large as 1.2 million like Calgary only record 30 homicides last year? It is a combination of Blacks making up only 2 percent of the population there and Calgary Whites being an extremely law abiding group. Also the largest Nonwhite group in Calgary are Asians who do not cause anywhere near as much crime problems and urban decay as the Blacks.

    Calgary has a lower percentage of Blacks than Portland and San Francisco.

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  22. Numbers are funny things, find me a broker that gets me only a 16% increase over last year, yeah, I’m happy.

  23. “rom skimming the list, it seems like “a lot of blacks” and “run by liberals” are factors in the cities that have big increases. I.e. the criminals know the power structure is on their side.”

    Lots of Blacks and Liberal run cities pretty much go hand and hand together. I don’t know of a single city in the U.S that currently has both a Republican mayor and a very high percentage of Blacks at the same time. The two together seem to be an oxymoron these days.

  24. But as long as white people are blamed they still accomplished what they were trying to do. The rest is just collateral damage.

  25. “Maintaining one’s status and credibility and honor, if you will, within that peer community is literally a matter of life and death,” Milwaukee’s police chief, Edward A. Flynn, said. “And that’s coupled with a very harsh reality, which is the mental calculation of those who live in that strata that it is more dangerous to get caught without their gun than to get caught with their gun.”

    BlackLivesMatter surely has educed this tragic irony, blacks killing more blacks because now black lives matter—you can’t make this stuff up—but I suspect its both more and less complicated than blacks being bad because the cops aren’t around. Murders don’t go down like that. We can see that murders are generally premeditated or spontaneous; either way the degree of police presence is not likely to be decisive, since the likelihood of a patrolmen in the right place at the right time is very small however often they are going to come around. It seems rather ridiculous to imagine a murderer thinking, Oh I can go kill that guy now cause the pigs are gone, or even thinking that in the heat of the moment. If Baltimore cops were preventing more than a third of the murders I’ll be damned.

    All the protesting brought a lot of enemies together, shall we say. I saw plenty of footage of fights breaking out among black protesters in Ferguson. Then there’s the aspect of gangsters seeing themselves on TV, like when Geraldo shoved a mike in some Blood’s face. Watching that makes him and every other black gangster who saw it very excited about being a gangster, and when you wake up feeling more like a gangster you’re apt to act more like one.

    Also, I think readers around here tend to think these protesters were just indulging an excuse to get riled up entitled-like, and that element no doubt was not insignificant. But I’ve been around a couple ghetto blacks since Trayvon Martin was killed, and they are pissed off to the core about this stuff, and I totally empathize with them— because they’re naturally not subtle thinkers, and they think white cops are getting away with murdering blacks, and they are very proud to be black. And with these people, once you get those juices flowing, their entire month is spent being a hot-head. Again, they start acting in general more like gangsters.

    Then there’s the way street murders tend to increase geometrically, since one murder provokes reprisals, and reprisals provoke reprisals, till 4 thugs are dead because one got killed. And that’s mainly true about honor killings, which is what I’m saying BlackLivesMatter has indirectly caused.

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  26. What’s another 500 murdered people if you’re on the side of the angels?

  27. Mrs. Jones, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is your husband has been murdered. The good news is, it may be nothing more than chance alone.

  28. They’re reading it for “talking points”, not facts, and they’re getting exactly what they want.

    The whole point is to have a bullet for a well placed shot at your ideological rival, or if on Facebook with nobody to aim at one simply fires into the sky and announces their GoodThink much like one would announce Takbīr.

    In the realm of the commoner, one person mentions the crime increase, the other fires back with the “but, …”. It’s always a battle of “talking points” and never anything reasoned. This is why the political types and their organs on either side spend so much time and energy crafting them, testing them and organising their deployment. And it’s why these ships will not sink.

    I’m surprised how often this sentiment, this lack of grasp upon the nature of our political discourse, shows up. It’s as old as it gets, and it has been especially refined since WW2.

  29. While the commentary is bad, they at least are providing statistics for people to draw their own conclusions.

    Notice Baltimore, pop 600,000, has more murders than NYC, pop 8 million. Baltimore also has more murders than the combined total of San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, El Paso, Denver, and Boston. Possibly also more murders than all of New England or all of the Pacific Northwest.

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  30. Regarding the impact of crime on gentrification, HUD’s strategy is to affirmatively move the criminal element to the suburbs.

    As for the crime wave being a blip, in Chicago’s gentrified Wrigleyville/boystown, police protection is down due to intractable budgetary problems and crime is up. See: Not sure what the future holds for these areas.

  31. Do you believe Black Lives Matter will eventually die off just like Occupy Wall Street? Or do you believe they will be around for the long term? Do you believe they will still be here 5 or even 10 years from now?

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  32. “While the commentary is bad, they at least are providing statistics for people to draw their own conclusions.

    Notice Baltimore, pop 600,000, has more murders than NYC, pop 8 million. Baltimore also has more murders than the combined total of San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, El Paso, Denver, and Boston. Possibly also more murders than all of New England or all of the Pacific Northwest.”

    Baltimore even though it is only a city also has more murders in pure raw numbers than a lot of nations like Israel, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Portugal, New Zealand, Singapore, Denmark, Hungary, etc.

    The inmates run the asylum in Baltimore.

  33. Sad. Lives ruined, families broken, for what exactly? A trending hashtag on Twitter?

    Being on the Left means you never have to face the consequences of your policy. In a world where Black criminality is a “myth” and increased policing is the reason why Blacks have a higher crime rate, an increase in the murder rate among Blacks will only cause activists to double down on their flawed thinking.

    I fear that this may become a long term trend.

  34. Center shot! And I can hear the arrow’s vibrations!

  35. Have you contemplated the possibility that getting a lot of black people killed was the objective?

    Think about the Left and abortion. Most, I suspect, think that the reason for elevating abortion to the foremost position in the Left’s priorities is so that women can be promiscuous without consequence. But maybe that was just a pretense. Maybe they really are the children of Margaret Sanger, and her purpose is their purpose.

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  36. says:
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    It goes up, it goes down, why it happens nobody can say. There’s plenty of people out there guessing with quite a few getting paid for their brainstorming. Some guesses sound better than others, particularly if it comes from an academic waving yet one more ‘study’ over their head. Perhaps other groups should just learn to accept it as a fact of life and expend their resources in sealing it off from everyone else as a policy of containment.

  37. advancedatheist [AKA "RedneckCryonicist"]
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Steve, some of the increase in Tulsa’s murders involves Hispanic gang members, though of course the blacks there have gotten more unruly as well. I grew up in east Tulsa in the 1970′s, at the time a predominantly lower middle class area full of generally well behaved whites. Now that part of my home town has become a barrio. I couldn’t believe all the Spanish-language signs I saw around my old neighborhood when I drove through there a few years ago.

  38. Of course, the total body count is probably much greater than 482 because the surveyed cities reported only a small fraction of the 14,000 murders reported each year.

    If other cities experienced the same 16% increase, #BlackLivesMatter et al. have killed about 14,000 x .16 = 2,200 people, mostly young black men.


  39. Keep going, Steve. Hire an intern if you must. But you’re the only person who is going to tally these numbers. Get em.

  40. I definitely don’t see it going the way of Occupy Wall Street, which I had totally forgot about by the way. I suppose the difference between the two is analogous to the difference between black gangsters and white stoners, or between racial pride and class pride, or between the media coverage of blacks dead by white cops and the media coverage of tax payers fleeced by jewish billionaires. BlackLivesMatter also can’t lose, cause they don’t seem to be making specific political demands, or at least nothing as quixotic as Occupy Wall Street wanted. I also think there are more than a few articulate black young men from these city’s who are going to make passionate political careers out this stuff. I saw one get interviewed in Ferguson who was quite poised and well spoken and very serious.

    But I think cops will be shooting much less from now on, and more incidents will hence not be forthcoming (even though, as Steve says, its a big country and bad stuff happens). I also think the media actually is practicing a bit of benign neglect. There was a video of a cop shooting a black in his car, and of a cop shooting a black in the back, and I’m pretty sure the cops aren’t being charged over either, but the national media have left those alone. What matters is what’s made for TV I guess, and when the shootings aren’t central to any black community, there’s no protesters to put the camera on, and then there’s nothing to keep showing.

    So I don’t think it will metastasize from here, but I don’t think it will go away. I do predict that white Democrats will not be talking about BlackLivesMatter on the stump much at all, and this will motivate more obscene blacks like Bernie Sanders got, and the media will then force the issue, or rather keeping talking about how Black Lives Are Being Ignored, and the Democrats will yet continue to not talk like Eric Holder, because this is annoying Reagan Democrats more than motivating black turnout at this point, I think its safe to say.

    Regarding the murder rate, I don’t know, but has a spike like this ever just spiked? Again, I think these murders are the self-perpetuating type. It’s true, thug life is romantic, and ghetto blacks have no idea how much of their lives are just life imitating art in all seriousness.

  41. In absolute terms, the biggest increase in dead bodies in 2015 came in Baltimore

    Perhaps they are just bodies who think they are dead?

  42. And let’s not forget Eisenhower’s Operation Wetback. (We can say that, can’t we?)

  43. “Have you contemplated the possibility that getting a lot of black people killed was the objective?”

    Have you tried talking to your typical Leftist? The ideology of the Left consists of so many blatantly incompatible ideas – if “ideas” they can even be called – that it’s hard to say there was any objective at all. Every conversation I’ve had with a Leftist, no matter how smart he may otherwise have been, was a frustrating swim through an ocean of inconsistencies, and no matter how obviously contradictory his beliefs were he could never be brought to understand it.

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  44. It’s a religion.

    It doesn’t have to make sense.

  45. […] tally in 2015 over 2014 can be laid directly at the feet of the post-Ferguson racial agitprop; more than a quarter of the increased homicide tally in 59 of the 60 biggest cities in the country co….  Third, yes, it’s true, if you’re not in a gang, not in the dope scene, and not […]

  46. I had exactly the same reaction. I even tweeted in response to the 538 tweet announcing this study that the verbiage clashed with the data and that this was a disgrace. First, 16% is a lot.

    Whoever pays Nate should cut his pay by 16%, see if he thinks that is a lot. Or maybe he should be moved into a house with 16% less square footage.

    Nate obviously wouldn’t be worried if his life expectancy dropped by 16%.

  47. Calgary is so non-black that their drug dealers are Vietnamese.

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  48. BLM is all about stopping gentrification by stopping any and all law enforcement on Black criminals. It is ths organic in reaction if not leadership and will grow and grow. NYC, DC, SF will end up like Detroit. Which suits Blacks just fine. Meanwhile every suburb will be Fergusoned via Section 8 and the DOJ AFA H policies.

  49. “Calgary is so non-black that their drug dealers are Vietnamese.”

    Like Salt Lake City, Utah which is so Nonblack that the majority of the drug dealers there are either Mexicans or Pacific Islanders.

  50. 776…….Americans killed by cops so far this year…..161 unarmed.

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  51. Calgary is so non-black that their drug dealers are Vietnamese.

    What are Saigon’s and Hanoi’s– Cambodian? Laotian? Hmong?

  52. Canada’s blacks are not only few in number, until recently they were cherry-picked as well. One typically deceptive salvo by gun-control advocates compared violent crime rates in Seattle and Vancouver, attributing the relative safety of the latter to stricter laws. Opponents were quick to point out that Vancouver was about the only city in the world where blacks were better off economically than whites. (Queens Co, NY, is another, but that’s because Archie’s dead and Meathead’s retired.)

    When Floyd Sneed, drummer for Three Dog Night, and once Tommy Chong’s brother-in-law, was born in Calgary in 1942, the city had only 88,000 residents and his family were just about the only blacks.

    Lots more Asians for the Chongs now, but the Sneeds are still lonely.

  53. The most deplorable one [AKA "Fourth doorman of the apocalypse"]
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    Why are whites so obsessed with black bodies that they have to count them when they are victims of black-on-black homicide?

  54. says:
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    No. I think the purpose is divide and rule so they wanted black people killing white and white people reacting.

  55. says:
         Show CommentNext New Comment

    So the million dollar question:

    is black violence fueled by police violence


    is police violence fueled by black violence.

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  56. Anon, I read the Plains Dealer because I have three children living and working in the Cleveland area. Since the Tamir Rice shooting, very unfortunate, and a DOJ imposed consent order, the police have seemed to back off a bit. The homicide rate in Cleveland has skyrocketed and it is 90% black on black.

  57. […] 12,000­-word study, however, deals with the alarming spike in homicide rates in 2015 during the Black Lives Matter agitation. The Washington Post reported in […]

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