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Portland is, famously, the whitest big municipality in the United States, which gives it some margin for error to do dumb stuff. For example, from Oregon Live:

Portland police to halt, purge all gang designations

Updated on September 8, 2017

By Maxine Bernstein
The Oregonian/OregonLive

Portland police next month will end their more than 20-year-old practice of designating people as gang members or gang associates in response to strong community concerns about the labels that have disproportionately affected minorities.

The Police Bureau recognizes that the gang designations have led to “unintended consequences” and served as lifelong barriers for those who have shunned the gang lifestyle and tried to get jobs, said Acting Tactical Operations Capt. Andy Shearer.

A review by Oregonian/OregonLive reporter Carli Brosseau last year found that of the 359 “criminal gang affiliates” flagged in Portland’s database as of last summer, 81 percent were part of a racial or ethnic minority.

From The Oregonian last year:

Who’s on Portland’s gang list?

November 4, 2016 at 5:10 AM

… By far the largest block — 64 percent — was black, compared with just 7.5 percent of the city’s population who are black or black and some other race.

In contrast, Los Angeles under former top cop Bill Bratton started a program of coming down like a ton of bricks on even low level gang members, rounding up entire gangs in mass arrests. The 2014 article “The End of Gangs” by Sam Quinones (author of Dreamland) explained how Los Angeles had made big progress against crime by using the Racketeer Influence Corrupt Organization (RICO) law to round up low level losers on gang membership lists:

The 2006 case against HLP was the first in Los Angeles to use RICO statutes on foot soldiers as well as gang leadership. Street gangs had previously been seen as small fry, but, by the mid-2000s, “the culture changed in terms of using this great tool,” says Jim Trusty, chief of the U.S. Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang section in Washington, D.C.

… Prosecuting street gangs has meant abandoning the previous focus on kingpins. “‘Cut off the head and body dies’ just isn’t true” when it comes to Southern California street gangs, says Brunwin. “You have to go after everyone—anyone who had anything to do with, supported, or touched the organization. You have to have an effect on the structure, its daily operation. The only thing that works is adopting a scorched-Earth policy.”

Basically, whoever happens to be the gang leader at the moment isn’t usually an irreplaceable criminal mastermind. The most important distinction isn’t between low-level gang members and high-level gang members, it’s between gang members and non-gang members.

Since 2006, there have been more than two dozen RICO indictments in Southern California, targeting Florencia 13, Hawaiian Gardens (HG-13), Azusa 13, Five-Deuce Broadway Gangster Crips, Pueblo Bishop Bloods, and many more of the region’s most entrenched and violent gangs. Most of the indictments have dozens of defendants; the Florencia case had 102, while Hawaiian Gardens, in 2009, was one of the largest street-gang indictments in U.S. history, with 147. …

Most of the Southern California RICO prosecutions have instead swept up large numbers of street gang members. Leaders of prison gangs like the Mexican Mafia usually aren’t even charged in these prosecutions, and are referred to as “unindicted co-conspirators.”

“In prosecuting the members, you make [prison-gang leaders] powerless,” Brunwin says. “If no one’s out there on the street doing their work, then they’re just guys in cells.”

Southern California RICO cases have sent large numbers of street-gang soldiers to prisons in places like Arkansas or Indiana, where no girlfriend is coming to visit.

Now, Quinones’s expertise is with Spanish-speaking criminals, so I don’t know from reading him whether this system works as well with black criminals. Judging from reporter Jill Leovy’s book on black murderers in South Central L.A., Ghettoside, an awful lot of black-on-black killings are Disorganized Crime (she cites “unwanted party guests” as a classic cause of homicides).

• Tags: Crime 
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Screenshot 2017-06-03 11.39.40

Dashed line is institutionalization rate (prison + asylum), solid line is homicide rate. First year is 1928, last year 2000. Crossover points are c. 1936 (homicides falling), c. 1968 (homicides rising), and c. 1996 (homicides falling).

Most news media coverage you read about how we must End Mass Incarceration Now starts with the factoid that crime is down since 1990, since it would be bad for The Narrative to start with, say, the old America of the JFK Administration. The huge LBJ Administration growth in crime that began during the peak of the Warren Court and the Great Society is, apparently, lost in the mists of time.

After all, who has ever heard of an obscure era known as The Sixties? Legend has it that there was once a rare group known as the Baby Boomers who were said to occasionally speak of The Sixties, but they apparently left no records behind.

But the graph above shows liberal policies of cutting imprisonment rates and shutting down mental asylums appears to have led to the big ugly X in the middle of the graph as the institutionalization rate fell and the homicide rate soared in the second half of the 1960s.

From the Texas Law Review:

From the Asylum to the Prison: Rethinking the Incarceration Revolution

Bernard E. Harcourt

Professor, U. of Chicago Law School
84 Tex. L. Rev. 1751 2005-2006

… When the data on mental hospitalization rates are combined with the data on imprisonment rates for the period 1928 through 2000, the incarceration revolution of the late twentieth century barely reaches the level of aggregated institutionalization that the United States experienced at mid-century. The highest rate of aggregated institutionalization during the entire period occurred in 1955 when almost 640 persons per 100,000 adults over age 15 were institutionalized in asylums, mental hospitals,and state and federal prisons.

Equally surprising, the trend for aggregated institutionalization reflects a mirror image of the national homicide rate during the period 1928 through 2000. Using a Prais-Winsten regression model that corrects for autocorrelation in time-series data, and holding constant three leading structural covariates of homicide, this Article finds a large, statistically significant, and robust relationship between aggregated institutionalization and homicide rates.

Thanks to Jim Trussels for calling my attention to this graph.

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From The Forward:

We Still Don’t Know Who Killed Seth Rich 10 Days Later
by Ari Feldman July 19, 2016

Ten days after the murder of promising Democratic staffer Seth Rich, the Washington D.C. slaying remains unsolved and police say they have no suspects in the crime.

Rich, a Jewish data analyst for the Democratic National Committee who worked on polling station expansion, was shot and killed as he walked home on Sunday, July 10.

Police told Rich’s parents that they believed his death was the result of a botched robbery. Though Rich’s killer did not take his wallet or phone, D.C. Police Commander William Fitzgerald said that “there is no other reason (other than robbery) for an altercation at 4:30 in the morning” at a community meeting on Monday.

The meeting was meant to address the recent uptick in robberies in the Bloomingdale neighborhood near Howard University. Police reports say robberies in the area are down 20%, but an investigation by the Washington Post found that armed robberies are actually up over 20% compared with July 2015.

If Rich’s mother had been invited, she could have brought to the first night of the convention his American flag. The Democrats could have used one.

• Tags: Crime, Homicide 
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Good news in a case I’ve been following. It was the subject of an NBC Dateline episode, “The Girl with the Blue Mustang.” If you watch it carefully, you’ll note that there is zero evidence against the man who has been in prison for years.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Man convicted of murdering college student set free amid questions over guilt

An Iraq war veteran convicted in the 2000 slaying of college student Michelle O’Keefe was ordered released from state prison Thursday after prosecutors express doubts about his guilt.

“The people no longer have confidence in the conviction,” Los Angeles Deputy Dist Atty. Bobby Grace told a judge, who ordered Raymond Lee Jennings released.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan recommended that Jennings be released immediately from the courthouse but ordered electronic monitoring for Jennings because the case against him has not been dismissed.

Jennings, who worked as a security guard at the Palmdale parking lot where O’Keefe was found, smiled broadly as entered the courtroom.

“He was happy to know, after 11 years, his ordeal is over,” his attorney, Jeffrey Ehrlich, said outside court.

Q: Who is Jennings and how did he come under suspicion?

Jennings was an Army National Guardsman and Iraq war veteran.

Detectives grew suspicious when Jennings he told them the young woman was still alive when he found her but that he did not perform CPR because he feared contaminating the crime scene. But there was no physical evidence linking Jennings to the crime. No weapon was found.

Two juries in Los Angeles deadlocked on the case. But prosecutors got a conviction during a third trial, which was held in Lancaster, in the region where O’Keefe lived.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Blake argued during the trial that Jennings gave inconsistent accounts in statements to detectives and in his deposition and revealed details that only the killer would know, such as the order of the shots that were fired.

What is the new evidence?

Prosecutors are not saying. But Jennings’ attorney offered some clues.

Jeffrey Ehrlich said the new investigation uncovered evidence suggesting a robbery or carjacking and that Jennings had nothing to do with it.

“There were other people at the scene, and D.A.’s office was aware of them, but they only looked at Mr. Jennings,” he said.

In a letter to prosecutors, Ehrlich outlined what he considers the weaknesses of their case. The letter noted that there were several people in the parking lot at the time of the killing who were smoking pot and listening to music. The letter quoted one of the witnesses as saying she saw a man in Toyota Tercel flee the scene.

Ehrlich argued that investigators failed to look into whether other people in the parking lot might be involved in the murder. He noted in the letter that one of the people in the parking lot that night had ties to street gangs and in the years since was involved in series criminal activities.

The prosecutor said the security guard probably made an advance toward O’Keefe and was rebuffed, leading to a confrontation and then the shooting.

“It’s an unspeakable crime for no good reason,” Blake said after the verdict.

Defense attorneys said that Jennings was only speculating about the killing during his interviews and said he inaccurately described one of the victim’s wounds as a gunshot. Medical experts concluded that it was caused by a blow to the head.

What’s next?

Prosecutors have said the new investigation is continuing. It’s unclear whether they plan to charge a new suspect in the killing.

An Iraq war veteran convicted in the 2000 slaying of college student Michelle O’Keefe was ordered released from state prison Thursday after prosecutors express doubts about his guilt.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan ordered that Raymond Lee Jennings be released on his own recognizance after prosecutors filed a writ under seal that the jurist described as making it clear that prosecutors no longer believed in his 2009 conviction in the Palmdale slaying. He was freed Thursday afternoon.

“We are prepared to say the people no longer have confidence in the conviction based on third party culpability,” Los Angeles Deputy Dist. Atty. Bobby Grace told a judge, who ordered Jennings released.

Grace’s statement alluded to a new investigation the District Attorney’s office has launched into February 2000 fatal shooting that has developed new evidence. Grace declined to address specifics outside court but his statement in court supported suggestions by Jennings’ attorneys that another person present that night is responsible for shooting to death O’Keefe.

Prosecutors reopened the case after attorneys for Jennings questioned why Los Angeles Sheriff’s detectives never interviewed several other people at the scene in a car.

… Jennings smiled broadly as entered the courtroom. “He was happy to know, after 11 years, his ordeal is over,” his attorney, Jeffrey Ehrlich, said outside court.

Ehrlich said sheriff’s detectives focused on Jennings, a father of five and Iraq War Veteran, as opposed to several other people at the scene including four people in a car smoking marijuana and listening to music.

Jennings was the Regular Guy White Defendant — an average family man with a spotless military record picking up some extra bucks as a security guard. He deployed to Iraq several times in the many years before he was charged.

Congratulations to the Ehrlich family of lawyers for their pro bono work in this case.

From the Ehrlich Law Firm press release:

On the night of the murder, Jennings, then 25 years old, had been patrolling the parking lot as an unarmed security guard. He heard gunshots and saw a car slowly rolling backward into a planter. Ms. O’Keefe’s body was inside, slumped over the steering wheel. She had been shot multiple times.

No forensic evidence tied Jennings to the crime. There was no gunshot residue on his clothes, nor was there any hair, fibers, or other trace evidence to suggest he had been in contact with the victim. No witness claimed to have seen the crime. At the time, Jennings was a 7-year veteran of the Army National Guard, with no prior criminal record. He held a “secret” security clearance and was studying to be a U.S. Marshal.

The murder went unsolved for over 5 years. In 2005, the District Attorney’s office charged Jennings with the murder, and he was arrested while he was on leave from serving in Iraq with his National Guard Unit. The case against Jennings was wholly circumstantial, and was primarily based on a now-discredited claim that he knew non-public details about the crime that only O’Keefe’s killer would have known.

Jennings was tried three times, with the first two juries unable to reach a verdict. In December 2009, a third jury convicted Jennings of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to a life term. His conviction was affirmed on appeal in 2011.

In June 2015, Jennings’ case came to the attention Ehrlich’s law-student son, Clinton Ehrlich. Clinton had seen a link on the internet to an NBC “Dateline” episode about the case. After watching the program he concluded that the case against Jennings was flawed, and he did further research. A few days later he convinced his father to take on the case for Jennings pro bono.

Clinton continued to develop a critique of the State’s case against Jennings, and on October 2, 2015, the father-son team submitted a 34-page single-spaced letter to the CRU, refuting every aspect of the State’s case. The letter persuaded the four experienced prosecutors staffing the CRU that Jennings was innocent and that the O’Keefe murder investigation should be re-opened. A new investigation was launched in May 2016.

The new investigation immediately focused on the people other than Jennings who had been in the parking lot when O’Keefe was shot.

Jennings, who has five children, has thus far served over 11 years in prison.

• Tags: Crime 
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As Orwell pointed out in the Newspeak Appendix to 1984, for more lucid, more useful thought, it’s helpful to have a broader arsenal of conceptual categories.

For example, my impression is that there has been an uptick over the last five decades or so in American history of what I would call “kamikaze killers.” These are guys who try to kill a lot of people and, a key element, who don’t really have a plan or hope for getting away with it. Some are mass shooters, some are suicide bombers, others are plane hijackers like 9/11, and so forth.

They want to go out with a bang and don’t care if they blow themselves up, are killed by cops, go to prison for life or the death chamber. As Machiavelli said in The Prince about assassins, this makes them hard to stop.

No doubt kamikaze killers always existed in small numbers, but they didn’t impinge much on the cultural consciousness until the Texas bell tower shooting by a man with a brain tumor in the mid-1960s.

This conceptual category — kamikaze killer — can be useful in thinking more clearly about the more general social problem of homicide.

For example, kamikaze killers are distinct from another concept that also has emerged since the 1960s, serial killers, who kill one or two people at a time and try hard not to get caught so they can carry on their murders.

The number of serial killers, according to baseball statistician Bill James, shot up as the social revolution of the late 1960s liberated all sorts of urges. They were so rare before the mid-1960s that most cops long resisted the concept of a category called “serial killer” who murders strangers one at a time. Cops were taught that victims almost always knew their murderers, so they refused to think about serial killers. James even claims that cops didn’t finally come around en masse and agree with the public that “serial killers” were a thing until Ted Bundy around 1980.

But serial killers appear to be in decline in the 2000s. Perhaps a study of what we’ve been doing right about serial killers would offer clues as to how we could better prevent kamikaze killers (keeping in mind that they are very different).

One factor that likely makes kamikaze killers more common these days than before the 1960s-1970s is that those of Christian ethnicity less fear being punished in Hell than in the past, while those of Muslim faith (who were vanishingly rare in America fifty years ago) expect to be rewarded in Heaven.

In this century in America, the death toll from Muslim kamikaze killers (well over 3,000 and counting) is vastly higher than from all other ethnicities of kamikaze killers. The per capita ratio of the death toll attributable to Muslims versus non-Muslims is sky high. So this has obvious implications for crafting intelligent immigration and visa policies. Moreover, we need an ideological change: the cognitive disorder of Islamophobiaphobia — fear of being accused of being fearful of Muslims — needs to become widely known and derided.

But the problem of non-Muslim kamikaze killers, while much smaller, also deserves attention.

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Here’s video of NYC’s notorious Hug Thug, Jermaine (a.k.a., Jeremy) Himmelstein, flattening a young lady from Canada in Times Square a couple of days ago.

Here’s another version of the video that shows more of the lead-up to the attack.

Putin’s Russia Today plays the story as more evidence of cruel capitalist budget cuts:

‘Free hugs guy’ with autism who punched tourist harassed by NYPD for years
Published time: 14 May, 2016 13:16

… Jermaine Himmelstein is well known in the Big Apple as the “Free Hugs Guy,” and because of the low level of financial support given to Americans struggling with mental health issues, he relies on tips in exchange for photographs to survive.

Himmelstein punched another young lady in late April in the 42nd Street subway station when she said she didn’t want a hug, and nobody in authority did anything at all about him, with the cops telling the victim he’d just get off because he’s a loon so whaddaya whaddaya (at that point he’d been arrested 15 times).

As I said before, I live on the other side of the country and even I’d been hearing for years about this Free Hugs Guy going to tourist destinations and slugging young women. Here’s his picture in the NY Post in 2012 and here’s a 2013 NYT article about him injuring a girl.

WABC found four earlier accounts of Himmelstein hitting women. For example, from the Coney Island Blog last year:

“Free Hugs” Guy Punches Out Girl On Coney Island Boardwalk!
Posted on April 20, 2015 by The Coney Island Blog in Residents, Visitors // 6 Comments

The man often seen strolling the boardwalk in Coney Island carrying a “Free Hugs” sign may also carry a mean punch! Local resident Vin Torre along with other witnesses contacted us over the weekend, notifying us that on last Saturday, April 18th at 2:10pm, Mr. “Free Hugs” knocked out a young girl in her early 20’s directly in front of the boardwalk entrance to Luna Park. According to Torre ” Me and my wife saw this girl on the floor with her face swollen! The girl’s face was bad! We called 911 and the girl’s friends pointed to the guy holding the “Free Hugs” sign! We were outraged because minutes after the incident he was back on the boardwalk giving out free hugs!”

I have no idea why the Hug Thug had escaped serious trouble for so long: maybe his Autistic Mike Tyson Jr. affect causes judges not to take him seriously? Yet, shouldn’t the fact that he talks just like Mike Tyson have been cause for alarm, not reassurance?

It’s past time to lock this guy up for a long while.

But I was thinking about the general problem of people who aren’t quite right in the head. It’s expensive to keep individuals with a less severe track record locked up year after year, but it’s irresponsible to the public safety just to let them go unheeded. It seems like there may be more technocratic things we could be doing to keep them away from situations they have a track record of not being able to deal with.

The British have been trying out various Clockwork Orange techniques as an alternative to long prison terms. They used court orders against specific behaviors that tend to lead a particular individual to trouble: Labour called them Anti-Social Behavior Orders (ASBOs) from 1998-2014, but they became unpopular and the Tories have changed the name. Still, I suspect that the new high tech GPS tracking technology we all carry around with us could be useful.

For example, places like Times Square and Hollywood Boulevard are full of people hustling for tips from tourists who, unlike Jermaine, go to the trouble of dressing up as comic book character. Most of them don’t cause too much trouble. But occasionally the Hulk Smash urge takes over. For example, from the L.A. Times in 2007:

The buzz on Hollywood Boulevard on Friday was over the Chewbacca who police say crossed over to the dark side in front of hundreds of tourists at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

LAPD officers arrested “Star Wars” street performer Frederick Evan Young, 44, of Los Angeles in his furry brown wookiee costume Thursday on a charge of misdemeanor battery for allegedly head-butting a tour guide who complained about Young’s treatment of two visitors from Japan.

The incident — witnessed by Superman and other impersonators — is the latest clash outside the landmark cinema between visitors and performers dressed as movie and cartoon characters. They collect tips from tourists who pose for pictures and watch them perform in front of the theater, where generations of stars have placed their footprints in concrete.

Tourists have complained that some costumed characters turn abusive when they refuse to pay them to pose for pictures. Two years ago, actors dressed as superhero Mr. Incredible, Elmo the Muppet and the dark-hooded character from the movie “Scream” were arrested for aggressive begging. More recently, an actor portraying slasher movie favorite Freddie Krueger was taken into custody for allegedly stabbing another man, although no charges were filed.

It would seem like that when you lets these folks out of the jug after doing their time you could make them wear a GPS ankle bracelet for a couple of years with the warning that they have to stay away from tourist sites. If they go hang out in Times Square, they get a call from their parole officer.

Perhaps fittingly, the idea of the ankle monitor came from Spider-Man. From Comic Book Resources:

A New Mexico district court judge, Jack Love, read a late 70s Spider-Man comic strip in the newspaper, where the villain Kingpin was tracking Spider-Man via an electronic tracking bracelet on Spider-Man’s wrist. Love theorized that such a device would work in real life, as well. He struck an arrangement with a computer salesman to develop the devices, which were introduced in New Mexico in 1983.

• Tags: Crime, Hug Thug 
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From The Guardian:

Is the ‘Ferguson effect’ real? Researcher has second thoughts

‘Some version’ of theory linking protests over police killings to increase in crime may be best explanation for increase in murders in 2015, St Louis criminologist says after deeper analysis of crime trends

Lois Beckett
Friday 13 May 2016 16.23 EDT

For nearly a year, Richard Rosenfeld’s research on crime trends has been used to debunk the existence of a “Ferguson effect”, a suggested link between protests over police killings of black Americans and an increase in crime and murder. Now, the St Louis criminologist says, a deeper analysis of the increase in homicides in 2015 has convinced him that “some version” of the Ferguson effect may be real.

Looking at data from 56 large cities across the country, Rosenfeld found a 17% increase in homicide in 2015. Much of that increase came from only 10 cities, which saw an average 33% increase in homicide.

“These aren’t flukes or blips, this is a real increase,” he said. “It was worrisome. We need to figure out why it happened.”

All 10 cities that saw sudden increases in homicide had large African American populations, he said. While it’s not clear what drove the increases, he said, he believes there is some connection between high-profile protests over police killings of unarmed black men, a further breakdown in black citizens’ trust of the police, and an increase in community violence.

“The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” Rosenfeld said. Now, he said, that’s his “leading hypothesis”.

Other experts have argued that it’s still hard to know whether 2015’s increase in murders was significant, much less what might have caused the trend. The liberal Brennan Center found that increases in homicide last year were localized in only a few cities, and that “community conditions” were likely to blame, rather than “a national pandemic”.

Even if the increase in homicide is significant, there are many competing theories for what may be responsible. The Brennan Center pointed to economic deterioration of struggling neighborhoods. Columnist Shaun King argued last month that the increase in violence in two cities seemed to be caused by police officers “refusing to fully do their jobs”. Local police officials have blamed court system failures, gang dynamics and the proliferation of illegal guns.

Rosenfeld’s new analysis of homicide trends, which was was funded by the Department of Justice, is currently being reviewed by department officials and has not yet been released to the public. A justice department spokeswoman said the paper is expected to be released in July.

Probably at 4:59 PM on July 3rd, kind of like how LBJ released the Coleman Report in 1966.

The question of whether there is any link between protests over police mistreatment of black Americans and an increase in violence in some black neighborhoods has been a political flashpoint for the past year. Conservative writer Heather Mac Donald warned in May 2015 that protests over police behavior would only backfire on black citizens.

“Unless the demonization of law enforcement ends, the liberating gains in urban safety over the past 20 years will be lost,” she wrote. Her op-ed, titled The New Nationwide Crime Wave, sparked a months-long debate.

The Obama administration repeatedly denied that there is any evidence of a “Ferguson effect”, while FBI director James Comey reiterated his suggestion that violent crime was increasing because of “a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement over the last year.” Protesters said the conservative focus on the Ferguson effect is an attempt to undermine the movement to reform American policing. …

Comey reignited the debate on Wednesday, telling reporters that the continued increase in violence was a serious problem that national media outlets were choosing to ignore. He said that private conversations with police officials across the country convinced him that “marginal pullbacks by lots and lots of police officers” afraid of being the subject of the next viral video of police misconduct might be contributing to the increase.

“The people dying are almost entirely black and Latino men,” he said. “It’s a complicated, hard issue, but the stakes couldn’t be higher. A whole lot of people are dying. I don’t want to drive around it.”

The White House clashed with Comey last year over his previous comments on policing and crime increases, and the administration has repeatedly pushed back against the idea of a “Ferguson effect”. Obama himself cautioned against trying to “cherry-pick” crime data last year, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that while the idea of the Ferguson effect had been bolstered by anecdotes, “there’s no data to support it”.

Other than that 17% increase in homicides from 2014 to 2015.

Chicago, Obama’s hometown, has seen more than 1,000 shooting incidents so far this year, compared with about 600 incidents during the same period last year. Murders in Chicago are up 56%, with 70 more people murdered so far this year than last year. …

Some protesters and law enforcement leaders criticized Comey for advancing a theory without national data to back it up. …

Serpas cited a series of influential reports from the liberal Brennan Center that found no change in overall crime in 2015 in the nation’s 30 largest cities, and only a slight increase in violent crime.

The Brennan Center analysis did find that the murder rate had increased 13.2% in the nation’s 30 largest cities, but it downplayed this finding. “While this suggests cause for concern in some cities, murder rates vary widely from year to year, and there is little evidence of a national coming wave in violent crime,” the report noted.

Crimes rate have generally been on a downward trend since perhaps the late 1970s, in part because crime doesn’t pay as well anymore. Property crime is way down due to target hardening and other developments in technology: for example, stealing cars was easy in the 1960s, so manufacturers made it harder to steal cars. So thieves switched to stealing car stereos, which were worth less, so those were made harder to steal. Moreover, information technology, such as the GPS location recording systems that everybody carries around with them now, are making a life of crime ever less plausible of a career track.

In other words, crime should be falling a few percent per year.

The three cities that had seen the biggest increases in murder “all seem to have falling populations, higher poverty rates, and higher unemployment than the national average,” the Brennan Center report concluded. “Economic deterioration of these cities could be a contributor to murder increases.”

Rosenfeld, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri St Louis and the chair of a National Academy of Sciences roundtable on crime trends, said the Brennan Center’s focus on the economic roots of violence was not enough to explain “why homicide increased as much as it did in these cities in a one-year period”.

“The conclusion one draws from the Brennan Center’s report is, ‘Not much changed,’ and that is simply not true. In the case of homicide, a lot did change, in a very short period of time,” he said.

While “economic disadvantage is an extraordinarily important predictor of the level of homicide in cities,” he said, “there’s no evidence of a one year substantial economic decline in those cities. There have to be other factors involved.”

The idea of a “Ferguson effect” was coined in 2014 by St Louis police chief Samuel Dotson. The same year that Ferguson saw massive protests over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, St Louis saw a 32.5% increase in homicides. “The criminal element is feeling empowered by the environment,” St Louis’s police chief argued, blaming the increase in crime on what he called “the Ferguson effect”, and arguing that the police department needed to hire 180 more officers.

That claim was picked up in May 2015 by Mac Donald, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute which had published a researcher’s 1996 warning about the purported rise of “juvenile super-predators”.

Samuel Sinyangwe, a co-founder of Mapping Police Violence and Campaign Zero, called the conservative focus on the Ferguson effect “a reactionary attempt to undermine the movement”.

“It has been the attempt to put across this narrative that any criticism of the police is dangerous to society,” he said.

That kind of political rhetoric has been used against civil rights advocates in the past. Opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act argued that “civil rights would engender a crime wave”, Yale political scientist Vesla Weaver wrote in an article on how arguments about crime were used to attack and undermine African Americans’ fight for equal rights.

Well, of course, civil rights did engender a crime wave, a giant one that did horrific damage to much of urban America, which got going right about 1964. But who can remember such details when we need to spend all our time remembering the really important history like Emmett Till?

A closer look at many of the statistics Mac Donald used to bolster her thesis showed they did not provide sufficient evidence of a nationwide crime wave, criminologist Frank Zimring argued last year.

When Rosenfeld analyzed St Louis’s crime data, he found the increase in homicides there could not have been caused by a “Ferguson effect”, because the greatest increase came early in the year, months before Michael Brown’s death or the protests that followed.

Rosenfeld’s research was widely cited in articles debunking the Ferguson effect.

But that paper only looked at the evidence for the effect in one city. With funding from the National Institute of Justice, the justice department’s research arm, Rosenfeld did a new study early this year that looked that more broadly at homicide trends in the nation’s 56 largest cities and found an overall 17% increase in homicide.

As a result of that broader national analysis he said, he has had “second thoughts” about the Ferguson effect. “My views have been altered.”

Looking at the additional homicides in large cities, he found that two-thirds of the increase was concentrated in 10 cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Washington, Nashville, Philadelphia, Kansas City and St Louis.

Those 10 cities had somewhat higher levels of poverty than the other cities he examined. But, he said, the “key difference” was that “their African American population was substantially larger than other large cities”: an average of 41% in those 10 cities, compared with 19.9% in the others.

Separate analyses looked at two of these cities in 2015 and early 2016. A FiveThirtyEight assessment of Chicago crime data concluded that the city’s increase in gun violence was statistically significant, that the spike dated back to the release of the video of the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, and that it was closely correlated with a drop in police arrests. Researchers in Baltimore found a similar correlation between a drop in arrests and an increase in violence in the wake of protests over Freddie Gray’s death, and concluded that while the Ferguson effect played no role in Baltimore’s rising violence, a “Freddie Gray effect” may have been a significant factor.

Violence has many complex causes, and decades of exhaustive research has shed only partial light. Even the dramatic drop in violence and crime since the early 1990s – the most basic fact about crime in America – is not fully understood.

No, the most basic fact about crime in America, which has almost been completely forgotten by the press, is that crime went way up in the 1960s and 1970s when liberals took charge of race in America.

In trying to understand 2015’s murder trends, Rosenfeld looked for reasons why cities that already struggled with high levels of violence might see “a precipitous and very abrupt increase”.

Rosenfeld considered two potential alternative explanations: the US heroin epidemic, and the number of former inmates returning home from prison. Neither of these explanations quite lined up with the increase in violence, he said. For instance, the country has been in the midst of a heroin epidemic since 2011. Why there would be a four to five year lag before the epidemic caused murders to spike?

Another possibility, however, is that the Mexican cartels peddling heroin in America have topped out on their target market of nonviolent white people — nobody much cared about white people quietly offing themselves — and are now expanding their business by finally dealing with black urban gangs, which they had tried to avoid before.

Mexico’s drug gangs have been insanely violent in Mexico but discreet in America. Sam Quinones got in with one Mexican outfit of heroin dealers in flyover America, the Xalisco Boys, for his book Dreamland and reported:

They are decidedly nonviolent — terrified, in fact, of battles for street corners with armed gangs. They don’t carry guns. They also have rules against selling to African-Americans because, as one dealer put it, “they’ll steal from you, and beat you.”

The Boys started out on the fringes of the drug world in West Coast cities. In the late 1990s, they moved east in search of virgin territory. They avoided New York City, the country’s traditional center of heroin, because the market was already run by entrenched gangs. … They also skipped cities like Philadelphia and Baltimore, where black gangs control distribution.

The Xalisco Boys migrated instead to prosperous midsize cities. These cities were predominantly white, but had large Mexican populations where the Boys could blend in. They were the first to open these markets to cheap, potent black-tar heroin in a sustained way. The map of their outposts amounts to a tour through our new heroin hubs: Nashville, Columbus and Charlotte, as well as Salt Lake City, Portland and Denver.

But maybe now the Mexican heroin mobs are dealing with black gangs in places like Baltimore and St. Louis? As we saw with crack a quarter of a century ago or the powder cocaine wars of 1980, when urban black gangs get a hot drug, they tend to shoot each other in large numbers in turf wars.

On the other hand, this heroin idea is mostly pure speculation on my part. It goes back to my 1999 debate with economist Steven “Freakonomics” Levitt in Slate when he asked when I figured murder rates would go back up again. I said: eventually there will be a new drug.

But the government’s strategy has been more sophisticated than I anticipated in 1999. Crack was so apocalyptic that the government seems to have been following a multimodal drug war strategy that has been pretty effective:

- Come down extremely hard with imprisonment on drugs that make people more violent, like cocaine.

- Err on the side of downer drugs that make people more passive, like heroin

- Err on the side of abuse of legal drugs, like prescription painkillers

- Err on the side of a multiplicity of drugs so that we don’t get back to a situation like crack cocaine in 1990 or powder cocaine in 1980.

So in the 21st Century the government eased up on prescription painkillers. But so many people started getting addicted and overdosing that it eventually tightened up, which gave an opening to Mexican heroin dealers. That has turned out to be such a disaster that white life expectancy actually declined in the latest statistics.

Mexican heroin dealers were cautious about staying in flyover country that nobody cares about and avoiding big cities with their violent drug gangs and media presence that made Miami world famous (except to economists) in the Scarface / Miami Vice era. In contrast to the glamorous Miami powder cocaine boom of 1980 and the West Coast / East Coast gangsta rap-fueled crack cocaine boom of 1988-1994, the Mexican / redneck heroin bubble of the 2010s has been pretty dismal and downscale, so almost nobody paid attention to it.

We’ll see what happens next.

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From the NYT:

Murder Rates Jump in Many Major U.S. Cities, New Data Shows

WASHINGTON — More than 20 major cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, have seen large increases in murders in recent months, a spike that the director of the F.B.I. linked to less aggressive policing stemming from a “viral video effect.”

The new data released Friday showed clashing trend lines across the country, with many cities seeing a sharp increase in murders while rates in others — including New York and Miami — were down significantly from last year.

Unfortunately, I can’t yet find this data online.

Update: Commenter Drake found it here.

After receiving an advance look at the data, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey Jr., expressed alarm Wednesday about the spike in murders in some major cities. Reigniting the debate over a “Ferguson effect,” he told reporters that he believed the trend could be linked to a “viral video effect” because officers were being less aggressive for fear of ending up on videos.

The White House distanced itself from Mr. Comey on the issue, named after Ferguson, Mo., where the 2014 shooting of an unarmed black man set off protests and rioting.

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, told reporters Thursday that “there still is no evidence to substantiate the claim that the increase in violent crime is related to an unwillingness of police officers to do their job.”

Mr. Earnest said the president saw a false choice in any notion that police officers must decide between fighting crime and doing so in a fair way.

The White House and the F.B.I. clashed over the issue last fall as well, when Mr. Comey made similar remarks about anecdotal reports he was receiving about less aggressive policing. He indicated that the latest data — which came from polling of more than 60 cities by the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association — left him even more concerned about some officers backing off from confronting suspects.

The Washington Post found an increase across the 50 biggest cities in homicides from 2014 to 2015 of over 16 percent. That’s a big change for one year. And that’s not including St. Louis (Greater Ferguson), which isn’t big enough to make the top 50.

Another thing that might be going on is that the Mexican heroin dealers have started pushing smack in the big cities, stirring up the black gangs. Sam Quinones’s book Dreamland reported that about a half decade ago, Mexican heroin dealers were concentrating on selling heroin in white rural areas because nobody important in America much cares about white hillbillies quietly dying of overdoses (you’ll notice that nobody talked about the White Death in the media until the new Nobel Economics laureate Angus Deaton brought it up right after he won his award). But, according to Quinones, back then Mexican heroin retailers considered African Americans to be hotheaded and violent and thus to be avoided.

But that kind of prudence among foreign drug dealers can seldom last, and now Mexican heroin is spreading to black ghettos, with predictable results in terms of blacks shooting blacks:

From the NYT last month:

Crime Spike in St. Louis Traced to Cheap Heroin and Mexican Cartels

… The death of Ms. Walker was linked by the authorities to a violent St. Louis street gang with ties to a Mexican drug cartel that in the past has supplied marijuana and cocaine throughout the Midwest. In recent years, however, Mexican traffickers have inundated the St. Louis area with a new, potent form of heroin, drastically reducing prices for the drug and increasing its strength to attract suburban users.

The dispersal of the cheap heroin has led to a surge in overdoses, addiction and violence in cities across the country.

Besides St. Louis — where the problem is particularly acute — Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Philadelphia have attributed recent spikes in homicides in part to an increase in the trafficking of low-cost heroin by Mexican cartels working with local gangs.

“The gangs have to have a lot of customers because the heroin is so cheap,” said Gary Tuggle, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s chief in Philadelphia, who observed the same phenomenon while overseeing the agency’s Baltimore office. ”What we are seeing is these crews becoming more violent as they look to expand their turf.” …

In a trend mimicked in large cities nationally, many of the heroin consumers in St. Louis are young whites in their 20s, who drive into the city from suburbs and distant rural areas, the police say. And while most heroin overdose victims here are white, nearly all of the shooting victims and suspects in St. Louis this year have been African-American men and boys, police data shows.

“What I’m seeing at street level are violent disputes about money owed around heroin debts, with sometimes the dispute being about money, and sometimes about drugs,” said D. Samuel Dotson III, the police chief of St. Louis.

In 2014, St. Louis had the highest homicide rate of any city with more than 100,000 people.

Ferguson started in August 2014 and impacted policing across the St. Louis area.

Its 157 homicides that year increased by 18 percent in 2015 to 188, and while the rate has slowed in the initial months of this year, St. Louis is again on pace to be among the nation’s most dangerous big cities.

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From the NYT:

Violence Surges in Chicago Even as Policing Debate Rages On

The word “even” in that headline is pretty funny. “Predictably” would be more logical than “even.”

… Chicago has long been troubled by violence, but murders and shootings have risen sharply this year. Violent crime remains below the levels of two decades ago, and criminologists caution against finding trends in only a few months of data. But City Hall, the police and community leaders are alarmed by the surge: As of Friday, 131 people had been murdered here in the first months of 2016, an 84 percent rise in homicides from the same period in 2015. There had been 605 shootings, nearly twice as many than this point last year.

The increase could hardly have come at a more difficult time. The city is at a pivotal moment for law enforcement, mired in a crisis over police conduct and discipline and over distrust of officers, particularly by African-American residents, who make up about one-third of Chicago’s population.

You know, this outburst of black on black killings isn’t some random fluke like the weather, it’s a direct result of last fall’s BlackLivesMatter agitation in Chicago and Obama Administration anti-police interventions, just like the pattern in St. Louis and Baltimore.

I’m sure we’ll soon see more learned articles about how there is no Ferguson Effect because, while homicides were up almost 17% overall in the fifty biggest cities from 2014 to 2015, crime wasn’t up in El Paso. So that proves there’s no general Ferguson Effect. Instead, the only thing that’s up significantly is black-on-black homicides in heavily black cities where there has been Soros-funded anti-law & order agitations. Science!

Doing a text search, I find no hits for “Ferguson” or “Black Lives Matter” or “Soros” in this article, but “Justice Department” does come up:

The Justice Department is scrutinizing the patterns and practices of the city’s police force; the mayor on Monday named an interim police superintendent to replace the department’s fired leader; and voters have rejected Cook County’s top prosecutor, defeating her in a primary on March 15. The release in November of a police video that showed a white officer shooting a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times caused longstanding anger about police conduct to boil over. …

Since January, officers have recorded 20,908 times that they stopped, patted down and questioned people for suspicious behavior, compared with 157,346 in the same period last year. Gun seizures are also down: 1,316 guns have been taken off the streets this year compared with 1,413 at this time last year.

In an unusual video address meant to reassure Chicago officers, John J. Escalante, who has been the interim superintendent, told the police, “We are aware that there’s a concern among the rank and file about not wanting to be the next YouTube video that goes viral.”

Dean Angelo, Sr., the president of the local police union, said public scrutiny had an effect on officers. “They’re being videotaped at every traffic stop,” he said.

But the drop in street stops by the police could be tied to a departmental change that took effect in January, requiring officers to fill out a far more detailed form for each one. The change was imposed after the American Civil Liberties Union raised questions about whether officers were targeting minorities in their stops. The department recently simplified the required paperwork, and the number of stops has since been on the rise, officials say.

Speaking of halcyon Oak Park v. homicidal Austin right across Austin Blvd.:

“I’m really tired of it, and tired of worrying,” said Gloria Johnson, 37, who serves food at a restaurant in Austin, a neighborhood where the authorities say violence has been particularly harsh. Like other parts of the West Side, Austin has long wrestled with economic distress, gangs and crime, and Ms. Johnson bears a long scar on her elbow from a bullet fired about a decade ago. “But it seems like this year is just the worst of the worst,” she said.

In summary: #BlackLiesSlaughter

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Screenshot 2016-07-21 19.57.24

From the Washington Post:

More people were murdered last year than in 2014, and no one’s sure why
By Max Ehrenfreund and Denise Lu
Jan. 27, 2016

The number of homicides in the country’s 50 largest cities rose nearly 17 percent last year, the greatest increase in lethal violence in a quarter century.

A Wonkblog analysis of preliminary crime data found that about 770 more people were killed in major cities last year than the year before, the worst annual change since 1990.

The killings increased as some law enforcement officials and conservative commentators were warning that violent crime was on the rise amid a climate of hostility toward police. They said protests and intense scrutiny of officers who used lethal force had caused officers to become disengaged from their jobs, making streets more dangerous. Some have called it the “Ferguson effect,” after the St. Louis suburb in which Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014.

Alternatively, the anti-cop / anti-white agitation could be stimulating blacks to shoot each other out of what Keynes called “animal spirits.” Or maybe something is going on in the drug trade. Perhaps heroin is spreading from the white hinterlands to the black inner cities? (I’m not at all in touch with what’s going down on the streets. For that matter, has anybody said “What’s going down on the streets” since a 1970s cop show?)

Keep in mind that St. Louis, where the Ferguson Effect (whatever it’s cause) was very large in the first half of 2015, isn’t in these stats because it’s not one of the top 50 cities in the country.

A closer look at the figures, however, suggests no single explanation for the increases and reveals no clear pattern among those cities that experienced the most horrific violence.

Several cities that recorded the largest increases in homicides — Nashville and Washington, D.C., for instance — had no widely publicized, racially charged killings by police. Many other big cities recorded modest increases or even declines in the number of homicides, with no deviation from the pattern of recent years.

13 cities had fewer homicides in 2015 than in 2014

36 cities had more homicides in 2015 than in 2014

The worst increase in percent terms was in Cleveland (+91%, Tamir Rice). Baltimore (Freddie Gray) was up 59%. St. Louis (Michael Brown), which is too small to make the 50 biggest city list, increased from 73 in 2003 to 159 in 2014 to 188 in 2015.

A general pattern was that increases in homicides, especially in absolute number terms, tended to be larger in cities with large black populations than in cities with large Hispanic populations. For example, the Post provided this graphic of California and Texas:

Screenshot 2016-01-28 20.46.59

Also, Hispanic cities have smaller numbers of murders per capita than black cities, so their data can be noisier from year to year just from smaller sample sizes. In contrast, Baltimore had 346 homicides last year, up 59% from 204, which is a pretty big sample size. In contrast, Denver’s homicide rate grew 65%, even faster than Baltimore’s, but Denver still only had 51 homicides in 2015. So, it’s not clear how significant Denver’s change from 2014 to 2015 was.

So, something seems to have gotten black slum dwellers agitated enough to kill each other in considerable numbers. Perhaps it’s all the agitation by black protestors working hand in glove with the Administration, the media, and the NGOs? That’s happened before, back in the 1960s. But the 1960s were a long time ago, so a lot of hard-earned lessons have been forgotten.

• Tags: Black Crime, Crime, Homicide, Race 
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Back in the previous decade, you could look up on the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics website a convenient graph in HTML form of “homicide offending” trends over time.

But the Obama Administration stopped maintaining that website (you can still find it here on’s Wayback Machine). As of 2011 they made you look up the racial ratio in homicide offending rates in a less convenient PDF report. Here’s a screen capture of the homicide offending rates by race graph from that 2011 PDF:

Screenshot 2015-11-08 21.41.07

But in 2013, the Obama Administration’s Bureau of Justice Statistics dropped the homicide offending numbers from their latest homicide report in favor of only mentioning homicide victimization.

While that seems petty, it makes it easier for SJWs to fantasize about evil white men gunning down black baby bodies. And that matters more than knowing the numbers.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Crime, Homicide, Homicide Rate, Race, The Gap 
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From Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight:

Murder Rates Don’t Tell Us Everything About Gun Violence


… Around 34 percent of nearly 3,000 shooting incidents in Baltimore since 2010 have ended in a fatality. Baltimore is on pace for a large jump in the number of murders this year, however, because the city is seeing 60 percent more shootings in 2015 than in 2014. While New Orleans appears to be experiencing a change in luck, Baltimore is experiencing a dramatic jump in gun violence.

Looking more closely at 2015 highlights the spike in gun violence in Baltimore that began in late April and its gradual slowing since the end of July. Despite this slowing, there were still more shooting incidents in September than there were in any month from 2010 to 2014.

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With the conventional wisdom congealing around Ta-Nehisi Coates’ belief that “mass incarceration” in America was both racist and unnecessary — just look at how low imprisonment rates are in Europe! — it’s worth noticing something that almost nobody in America has noticed: the big property and assault crime wave in Britain in the last part of the 20th Century. That would also seem relevant to the current massive push by the President and the metropolitan media that something must be done about those well-armed rednecks out in the sticks.

You can get clues about the criminal history of Britain from books and movies. For example, when Anthony Burgess published his sci-fi novel A Clockwork Orange in 1962, in which Alex and his droogs motor out into the countryside to commit home invasion on an isolated cottage, the crime of home invasion barely existed in England. Burgess based the incident on something that happened to his wife’s family during WWII at the hands of U.S. GIs. (There’s a lot of social history that’s been swept under the rug about life in England before D-Day as the country filled up with young Americans waiting around to fight the Germans.)

Yet, by 1990 or so, home invasions in the rural countryside were a sizable problem, seemingly much bigger than in the U.S., where homeboys mostly terrorize their own communities.

And then there was the fecklessness of the British police.

There’s a scene in the fine little 2004 British movie Millions directed by Danny Boyle (his latest film is the new Steve Jobs biopic out this weekend). Unfortunately, I can’t find video of the scene online. A family moves into a new exurban housing development in the English countryside. At a gathering of the new homeowners, a policeman addresses them:

I’m your… Community Policeman. Obviously there is no community here as yet, not to speak of, but you know…

Anyway the first thing to say is, these new houses and Christmas coming up. Statistically, you’re going to get burgled. Now, not all of you, but some of you, soon. Probably this week, next.

When you are, call me.

My recollection is that a homeowner interjects at this point to ask if the policeman will arrest the thieves or merely use the information to prevent future crimes. The cop responds to the effect of: Neither:

I’ll give you a crime number and then you can make a claim on your insurance.

This scene apparently baffled American critics and audiences.

From an interview with Boyle in About Entertainment:

Q.: This is a weird question, but in “Millions” the police come and warn the community about the fact they will probably be burglarized during the holidays. Is that realistic?

Boyle: (Laughing) Yes. It’’s silly but there’’s an element of truth in it. Britain is plagued by burglaries at the moment. Everybody is paranoid about it. It’s kind of making fun about it, how it’’s inevitable you’re going to get burgled. And it is if you live in a city. It’’s inevitable you’’ll get burgled. In fact, I live on my own and while I’’m here in America, I’’m pretty convinced I’’ll be burgled by the time I get back.

Q. The scene plays a little strangely to American audiences. The police here don’’t usually come around and tell us to prepare to get burglarized.

Boyle: It’’s maybe very idiosyncratically British, a guy coming around saying that. That gets a big laugh in Britain. People really recognize that copper with that kind of fatalistic approach to crime.

Since the 1990s or so, the British government has been trying to fight back against crime. As Burgess predicted in 1962, they’ve taken a largely technocratic approach. For example, Britain now has a huge number of security cameras.

There is probably a lot we could learn about the British experience of crime. Being dependent as we are, though, in getting our views on crime from Ta-Nehisi Coates, who is, for all his virtues, not the world’s most worldly man, we’re probably not going to be hearing much about it. Maybe if Obama were to appoint Ta-Nehisi Coates as America’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Coates could find out about it and tell us.

• Tags: Britain, Crime 
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From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

Occam’s Rubber Room

by Steve Sailer

In the 14th century, the English philosopher William of Ockham introduced what has come to be known as Occam’s Razor for its usefulness in slicing through intellectual bloviations: Among competing theories that predict equally well, the simplest should be preferred.

About a decade ago, I coined the term Occam’s Butterknife to characterize the contemporary liberal insistence upon implausibly convoluted explanations.

But now that race man Ta-Nehisi Coates is back with a giant article in The Atlantic about “The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality,” I need a more all-encompassing term to describe this increasingly fashionable rejection of reality. Let’s try: Occam’s Rubber Room.

Read the whole thing there.

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Homicides 2015 v 2014

To disprove “scare headlines” about a rise in crime following the Ferguson agitation (which started 8/9/2014), the good folks at ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight have assembled homicide data for 59 of the 60 biggest cities in the country for 1/1/2014 through 8/8/2014 and for 1/1/2015 through 8/8/2015:

Scare Headlines Exaggerated The U.S. Crime Wave

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


… The wave of crime-wave reporting began this spring with NPR, CNN, the BBC and USA Today, based on just a handful of cities. In August, after the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) announced results of a survey of a few dozen of its members about crime in their cities, many other outlets — including Reuters, Voice of America and Time — added to the chorus. And last week, The New York Times put the crime wave on its front page, saying that “cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders.” The Times article was accompanied by a chart showing crime trends in 10 cities, which in turn provoked refutations from The Washington Post and the Marshall Project, based on fewer than 20 cities each.

I’ve taken FiveThirtyEight’s table of data and created the graph above, with cities that have seen an increase in homicide numbers in red and cities that have seen a decrease in green.

It looks like the “scare headlines” were right.

There’s always a lot of randomness in homicide stats, but consider this: the biggest decline in absolute number of homicides was in Boston, with 15 fewer dead bodies so far in 2015 than in the same time period in 2014. In contrast, among the cities with increases in homicide, a dozen cities have gone up more dead bodies than Boston went down (with Baltimore leading the way with 77 more homicides).

How about cities with changes, up or down, of at least 5 homicides? Three cities had declines of that magnitude or greater, 30 had increases.

Summing across all 59 cities, homicides were up 16%. That’s a scary 482 more dead bodies so far in 2015 v. 2014.

And as this graph shows, the trend is pretty widespread, especially in the blacker cities.

You could argue that the trend wouldn’t be quite so obvious if you left out the top two increases in homicides: Baltimore (Freddy Gray) and St. Louis (Michael Brown). But, of course, that just increases the evidence that this homicide wave is related to the campaign by Eric Holder and friends against the police.

#BlackLivesMatter = #BlackDeathsDon’tMatter

So how big is this change in homicides? The FiveThirtyEight guys go on at some length about statistical significance in each city, but here’s a neat example over almost exactly the same time period that helps you get a better feel for how confident you can be: according to the National Golf Foundation, the number of rounds of golf played in the first 7 months of 2015 is up 0.4% versus the first 7 months of 2014.

Does that mean the Golf Recession is finally over after a decade and a half?

Eh, hard to say. If you look at individual markets, you can see that many are up and many are down. A lot of golf rounds played statistics depend upon the weather, which the NGF report includes to help you interpret whether trends are climatic flukes or not. So far this year, the best market for golf has been the Twin Cities in Minnesota, which are up 14%, while the worst is Houston, down 13% (maybe due to oil prices being down?).

Milwaukee, which has had a 76% increase in homicides, is also up 10% in terms of rounds of golf. Perhaps nice weather is to blame for both?

My guess would be that homicides are more statistically volatile than rounds of golf because they are so few in number in many places. If Arlington, Texas is down from 8 murders in the first 7.25 months of 2014 to 4 in the same time period in 2015, well, randomness is probably playing a big role.

But, still … this graph suggests that our society insisting that blacks should be angry at law & order has led to more blacks killing each other in substantially black cities. No doubt that’s not the only reason for what we see on this graph, but it sure looks like the most obvious reason.

Hopefully, this trend won’t continue. People sometimes learn from past mistakes. In the mid-1990s, for example, a lot of people figured out that the trigger-happy crack-dealer lifestyle that seemed so glamorous on their gangsta rap albums wasn’t a good idea at all.

P.S. More on this topic here.

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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.

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From The Atlantic website:

The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality
Sep 10, 2015 | 12-part series
Video by The Atlantic

In his upcoming October cover story, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores how mass incarceration has affected African American families. “There’s a long history in this country of dealing with problems in the African American community through the criminal justice system,” he says in this animated interview. “The enduring view of African Americans in this country is as a race of people who are prone to criminality.” You can read the full story on September 15, 2015.

Authors: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jackie Lay

So you can’t yet read TNC’s blockbuster article about “The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality,” but you can salve your impatience by listening to TNC talk about his next effusion here.

Meanwhile, from The New Republic:

Screenshot 2015-09-10 14.54.38The New Black Intelligentsia Is Shaping American Thought Online


… A new generation had come onto the scene, with pedigrees that didn’t include terminal degrees, but who were driving the conversation nonetheless. Between the World and Me, which currently holds the second spot on the Times’ nonfiction best-seller list, was written not by a professor but a young black thinker who did not graduate from college: Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates established his reputation not in scholarly publications but through popular blog posts and articles for The Atlantic.

Along with Coates, a cohort of what I would like to call the “black digital intelligentsia” has emerged. They wrestle with ideas, stake out political territory, and lead, very much in the same way that my generation did, only without needing, or necessarily wanting, a home in the Ivy League—and by making their name online.

The only problem for blacks with having TNC as the face of your New Black Intelligentsia, however, is that TNC obviously isn’t exceptionally intelligent.

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From the NYT Op-Ed Page:


The Virginia Shooter Wanted Fame. Let’s Not Give It to Him.

Zeynep Tufekci

A BRUTAL attack takes place on live television; the on-air reporter and cameraman are fatally shot while at work on an early morning story.

The resulting footage — essentially a stomach-churning snuff film — aired on cable news, and was embedded in online news reports.

In a further grotesque twist, the killer filmed the episode and posted his first-person shooter video on social media. “See Facebook,” he tweeted, directing readers to the video that he also posted on Twitter, and which auto-played on many streams as people shared the posts.

This is probably exactly what the shooter, who took two lives and then his own on Wednesday in Virginia, was hoping for in his engineering of mass media and viral infamy. And he is not the only one. Studies show a rise in public mass shootings in the years since the 1999 killings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

These incidents are often followed by discussions of the availability of guns, and about mental health support. Those are crucial issues. But there is something else going on, too: Many of these shooters are seeking a twisted form of notoriety. The killers’ success in obtaining the distorted fame they seek is helping inspire the next troubled person.

We need to understand the copycat aspect of these killings so that we can start dampening this effect.

I am sympathetic to this line of argument in general. I reported upon a post-Columbine copycat school shooting in 2001 and felt like my presence (and the presence of 31 different media outlets’ satellite camera trucks) was just encouraging the next little creep. (Oddly enough, however, classic school shootings largely halted after the one I covered.)

Of course, the media didn’t seem to have any qualms about rewarding with fame the white South Carolina shooter who murdered those black churchgoers. Indeed, that little bastard’s crime seems almost perfectly calibrated to get his name repeated in the prestige press in endless thinkpieces about how the terrible racial injustices of the past are still rampant in the Evil South. The most plausible explanation for his choice of victims was to ensure his notoriety.

Now, a black gay Virginia shooter all hyped up by mainstream media’s constant identity politics hatemongering, a mediacrity himself, murders two straight white people. So now it’s time to hush up about the killer’s amply documented motivations …

• Category: Ideology, Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Crime 
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Try to guess which excerpt is from the New York Times and which is from the Daily Mail:

Bryce Williams, Virginia Shooting Suspect, Dies


BEDFORD, Va. — A former reporter who was fired by a Virginia television station shot and killed two of the station’s journalists as they broadcast live on Wednesday morning, officials said, recording the act on video himself, and then posting the video online. He later took his own life, officials said.

The shooting and the graphic images that resulted marked a horrific turn in the national intersection of video, violence and social media. The gunman’s own 56-second video showed him deliberately waiting until the journalists were on air before raising a handgun and firing at point-blank range, ensuring that it would be seen, live or recorded, by thousands.

A reporter, Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, a cameraman, were killed, according to their station, WDBJ, while the person they were interviewing, Vicki Gardner, was wounded and underwent surgery. She was listed in stable condition.

The police and WDBJ identified the gunman as Bryce Williams, whose real name is Vester Lee Flanagan. Mr. Williams had aired grievances against the station and other employees there before and after he was dismissed two years ago.

Shortly after the shooting, a post to Mr. Williams’ Twitter account said, “I filmed the shooting see Facebook,” and a shocking video recording from the gunman’s point of view was posted to his Facebook page. Both accounts were quickly shut down.

The Twitter account of Mr. Williams, who is black, referred to a complaint he had filed against the station with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He claimed to have been subjected to racist comments in the workplace.

Jeffrey A. Marks, president and general manager of the station, confirmed that the complaint had been filed, but said it was dismissed as baseless. Of the racist comments, “none of them could be corroborated by anyone,” he said. “We think they were fabricated.”

A spokeswoman for the agency, Kimberly Smith-Brown, said federal law prohibited her from confirming whether the agency had received a complaint.

In contrast:

Revenge race murder: Bitter black reporter who gunned down white ex-colleagues live on air and posted the video online blames Charleston shootings and anti-gay harassment in manifesto

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Screenshot 2015-06-11 00.55.10

From The Guardian, an article about a public official telling the truth:

NYPD chief Bratton says hiring black officers is difficult: ‘So many have spent time in jail’

New York police commissioner says bringing more non-white officers into force is challenging because many African American men have criminal records

Hiring more non-white officers is difficult because so many would-be recruits have criminal records, the New York police commissioner, Bill Bratton, has said.

“We have a significant population gap among African American males because so many of them have spent time in jail and, as such, we can’t hire them,” Bratton said in an interview with the Guardian.

Another way of looking at it is that black cops are roughly in proportion to their race’s percentage of law-abiding citizens in the NYC commuting zone, but not in proportion to the black race’s share of total criminals in NYC.

When the usual furor started, Bratton told the NY Daily News:

“These are facts and I always deal with facts,” he said.

So far, William Bratton, age 67, has been strikingly invulnerable to social justice hate mobs over the decades.

This is probably because he has presided over crime declines as top cop in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. Those are cities where important citizens live. They are not podunk burghs like Ferguson. So leftist Bill de Blasio hired him to run the NYPD again.

Bratton is both a slick politician and rather more of a straightshooter than we’re used to these days. At least outside U.S. territory. For example, here’s a blunt, wise 2006 interview that Bratton gave Linda Frum of the Canadian news magazine Maclean’s regarding Toronto’s crime problem:

Q. [Frum] So you know a little bit about our city? You know about our problems? A 27-per-cent increase in the number of homicides from 1995 to today. A Boxing Day slaying where a 15-year-old innocent bystander was gunned down during a gang shootout on a major shopping street. Can I tell you — it would be nice if you were our police chief.

A. [Bratton] Well, thank you. Tell me, the gang violence that you are experiencing, what is the racial or ethnic background of the gangs?

Q. That’s a refreshingly blunt question. Some say it may be as high as 80 per cent Jamaican. But no one knows for sure, because people here don’t like to talk about that.

A. You need to talk about it. It’s all part of the issue. If it’s Jamaican gangs that are committing the crimes, well then, go after the Jamaican gangs. And don’t be afraid to go after them because they’re black. That’s the last thing you need to be concerned with.

Q. Oh boy, I can see the complaints coming in already. You have to understand the climate here. The major local daily in Toronto, the Toronto Star, says it doesn’t believe in “gratuitously” labelling people by ethnic origin.

A. Well, that really helps identify who they are, doesn’t it? The next step will be to refuse to allow the police to identify people by their race or ethnic origin. That type of societal consciousness really goes to extremes. …

Q. The Broken Windows approach to policing is assertive and increases the frequency of interaction with citizens on a daily basis. Is it a method of policing that is possible only with the right political will behind it?

A. Political will is absolutely critical. In other words, if your government, your society, is saying, “We don’t want you focusing on the little things because we’re concerned it might be seen as racially incorrect,” or, “We’re concerned that it’s not appreciative of the ethnic backgrounds of people” — well, that’s the lame excuse that got American policing into so much trouble in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. The attitude was, “We’re not going to police some of these minor crimes in the minority neighbourhoods. After all, what’s the harm? There are really no victims to prostitution, or gangs hanging on the corner and drinking.” But what we didn’t understand was that the victim was the neighbourhood. It was like a cancer eating away at that neighbourhood. And all the people who lived there were ultimately the victims as their neighbourhoods deteriorated. It’s guaranteed that if you don’t control those minor types of violations, you are going to create a climate in which the people perpetrating them are emboldened to try and get away with more…

Q. Rather than focus on social and economic causes, you’ve said in the past that one of the most important ways to reduce crime is to go after narcotics. . .

A. Well, what are the Jamaican gangs up there fighting over — who controls the drug trade?

Q. Yes.

A. Exactly. So to do it, they are going to do the same thing they do down in Jamaica, which is resort to violence as the first way of dealing with it. Whether it’s your Asian gangs that are trying to control the gambling or your gangs coming in from Eastern Europe trying to control the credit card fraud, they all have their specialties. It comes back to core principles. The criminal justice system, if properly co-ordinated, and properly supported politically and publicly, can in fact control crime. And the way you control crime is through controlling behaviour.

Q. So the situation in Canada is far from hopeless. . .

A. The good news is we know what to do about crime. You need to have political leaders, police chiefs, and the community working together, under the community policing partnership principle. You need to develop priorities and develop focus. And also go from the underlying understanding that crime is caused by individual behaviour.

• Tags: Crime 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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