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Screenshot 2016-05-27 15.56.17

From the NYT:

Chicago’s Murder Problem

There was a time when it looked as if Chicago would follow New York and Los Angeles into a kind of sustained peace. Then progress stalled in 2004, and the city has been through some harrowing years leading up to another alarming spike in homicides this year.

Already embroiled in a crisis over race and police conduct, Chicago now faces a 62 percent increase in homicides. Through mid-May, 216 people have been killed. Shootings also are up 60 percent.

A big factor is that the nice white liberal Democrats of New York defeated five consecutive Democratic candidates for Mayor from 1993 through 2009, instead electing crime-fighters Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. You can see Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk program in the graph below of “Change in Weapons Cases Since 2001.” While there is a lot that the Democratic politicians of Chicago can get away with, what with being Democrats and all, they can’t get away with that.

Screenshot 2016-05-27 15.58.09

Guns Are a Key Difference

People who know both cities say there are some significant differences in policing, especially around the issue of guns.

The homicide rate in Chicago is just a little higher than in New York when guns aren’t involved. But when it comes to shootings, both fatal and not, Chicago stands out, suggesting a level of armed interaction that isn’t happening in New York.

Chicago has a reputation for strict gun laws, and gun rights advocates often point to it as proof that gun regulation doesn’t reduce violence….

And Chicago is more lenient about illegal handguns than New York, prescribing a one-year minimum for possession versus three and a half years in New York. An attempt to match the New York law in 2013 was rejected by the Illinois legislature out of concern for skyrocketing incarceration rates for young black men.

New York also hired a lot more police officers in response to the crime of the 1990s, and, during its stop-and-frisk era of the 2000s, steeply increased gun enforcement.

Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk is effective gun control: the cops stop young black and Latino men because they don’t like the looks of them, pat them down, and if they are carrying a gun for which they don’t have a permit, off to prison they go. Of course, it’s also a massive violation of civil rights and it’s hard to imagine any less privileged city than New York (or possibly Washington DC) getting away with it for so many years. But more important white people live in NYC than wherever you happen to live, you loser, so the anti-discrimination rules don’t apply to the NYPD to the same extent as they do to your police department.

Chicago’s Police Department, overwhelmed, can respond only to the most serious problems, leaving citizens to feel responsible for their own security, he said.

“Everyone has to establish deterrence on a retail basis,” he said. “People carry guns in public because other people are carrying guns. It’s literally an arms race, a vicious cycle. There are lots of indications that New York City, by taking guns more seriously and hiring more officers, has gotten a lot of guns off the streets, creating a virtuous cycle.”

Another aspect is that stop-and-frisk drives young minority males out of town, first to prison then to less privileged cities where the cops can’t trample on civil rights to the extent they could for 12 years in New York City.

In Chicago, gang disputes are clearly a big part of homicides, said John Hagedorn, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who studies Chicago gangs. “But these are not the same kind of disputes as before – they’re more localized disputes.”

Many of Chicago’s gangs have fractured, leading to more violence, said Arthur Lurigio, a criminology professor at Loyola University Chicago. While Latino gangs have remained more hierarchical, black gangs have splintered into small, disparate factions, whose disputes are less over territory and profits, and more over personal insults or shames, often fueled by social media, he said.

The late Gakirah Barnes

… In addition to making threats, individuals at times post their location on social media to prove to rivals that they’re tough, he said.

In one well-known instance, Gakirah Barnes, a Chicago gang member who was rumored to have killed or shot up to 20 rival gang members, referenced an address she frequented on Twitter.

Gakirah was a teenage girl.

In the tweet, provided by Dr. Patton, Ms. Barnes says “Lz,” which has multiple meanings in Chicago gang cultures, including living life, at address number 6347. Later that day, she was shot and killed near the address.

… “The shootings today are more spontaneous over day-to-day humiliations of youthful African-Americans,” he said.

In other words, legalizing drugs wouldn’t do much to stop Chicago blacks from shooting each other so much. They’ve largely been squeezed out of serious drug businesses, such as by the Mexican cartels, so they’re just shooting each other over low-level knuckleheadedness.

Of course, nobody wants to live around people like Gakirah Barnes who can afford not to. So, the places where the Garkirah Barneses live are “segregated,” which gives the NYT something to blame the proliferation of Gakirah Barneses upon besides Garkirah Barnes and her parents, cousins, and friends. It’s the fault of “segregation:”

Crime Persists in Chicago’s Most Segregated Neighborhoods

Whether exacerbated by gangs or guns, though, Chicago’s killings are happening on familiar turf: Its poor, extremely segregated neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. And many say that is Chicago’s real violence issue.

“Where do gangs come from? They tend to take root in the very same neighborhoods that drive these other problems,” said Robert J. Sampson, a professor at Harvard and the author of “Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect.” “You can’t divorce the gang problem from the problem of deep concentrations of poverty.”

“What predicts violent crime rates is concentrated poverty and neighborhood disadvantage, and what determines concentrated poverty is high levels of black segregation combined with high levels of black poverty,” said Douglas S. Massey, a sociology professor at Princeton University.

In Chicago, homicide rates correspond with segregation. While many areas have few or no killings, the South and West Sides are on par with the world’s most dangerous countries, like Brazil and Venezuela, and have been for many years.

Screenshot 2016-05-27 17.13.24

Well, the Austin neighborhood on the West Side (next door to still nearly crime-free Oak Park, IL) was segregated up until Martin Luther King came to Chicago and demanded open housing. Oddly, enough, Austin was basically crime free when it was all white. (So “segregation” is a euphemism for a neighborhood being filled with the dregs of the black race so that nobody else except blacks will live next to them. In contrast, there are completely black neighborhoods in Chicago, like Avalon Park, that are pretty much 100% black but have much lower homicide rates because they are middle class blacks.)

My in-laws, being nice liberal public school teachers and classical musicians, joined a liberal organization devoted to making integration work by promising not to sell out. Three years later, their children had been subjected to three felonies and the value of their two flat had fallen in half. They sold out.

So I guess it’s all their fault that Austin is the way it is.

Anyway, I think there are a few things going on that aren’t being mentioned in the article. First, I don’t think the crack wars of the early 1990s were ever that bad in Chicago, so they didn’t purge Chicago to the same extent of its most violent thugs, as tended to happen in NYC and LA. Also, rent didn’t go up as much in Chicago as in the two larger cities, so the black population has only recently started to fall. Another thing that’s going in NYC that’s kind of subtle is that more middle class West Indian and African blacks are replacing downscale American blacks to a greater extent than in Chicago. Also, there’s some evidence that the number of American black males in NYC is way down due to imprisonment and moving out to avoid stop-and-frisk, but that’s kind of tough to tell because it could be just black men dropping off the grid.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Black Crime, Race/Crime 
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With the Los Angeles suburb of Compton back in the news due to the hit biopic “Straight Outta Compton” about the 1980s gangsta rap group N.W.A., it’s worth noting that Compton has a pretty interesting real estate history. In the 1950s and 1960s, Compton represented the black version of what Kevin Starr and Benjamin Schwarz call “the California Dream” of pleasant lower middle class life for the masses.

With Ta-Nehisi Coates popularizing the genre of real estate histories, lets look at a less tendentious academic work covering Compton, the U. of California Press book, L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present by historian Josh Sides, director of the Center for Southern California Studies at Cal State Northridge in the San Fernando Valley.

“Ganton” in Grand Theft Auto

One of Los Angeles’ older independent suburbs, conveniently located a little over halfway from downtown L.A. to the L.A. / Long Beach Harbor, Compton started out pretty much all-white until the courts banned restrictive covenants in 1948.

Compton offered its predominantly blue-collar residents affordable suburban homes in the heart of a thriving industrial area. … During the 1940s, Compton eagerly annexed almost fifteen hundred acres, hoping that added resident and industrial growth would contribute to the city’s already substantial tax base.

Compton was nice enough that two future Presidents lived in Compton in 1949-50: George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

George W. Bush, Compton, CA 1949

This tax base allowed the city to develop a strong public educational system …

As late as 1948, fewer than fifty African Americans lived in among Compton’s forty-five thousand residents. … Yet during the 1950s, Compton underwent the most profound racial change of any city in Southern California. Responding to the great demand for African American housing outside the ghetto, a new group of tract home developers and real estate brokers found a niche in the unrestricted housing market. … This undeveloped property became a fertile area for the growth of the city’s black population. Davenport builders, a large developer, quickly built unrestricted tract homes on the western edge of Compton. … This was one of the few places in Los Angeles County where blacks could buy new tract housing. … “For once, the Negro did not move into slums; for once he came into good housing.” Indeed, the 1960 census revealed that 93 percent of blacks in Compton lived in homes built since 1940, with more than half residing in homes built since 1950. Compton’s houses were also large: almost 75 percent of black households in Compton had four to five rooms.

Keep in mind that “large” by postwar L.A. County standards is not large by 21st Century national standards. A sizable fraction of the housing in L.A. County was built during the egalitarian decades after Pearl Harbor when the emphasis was on quickly and cheaply providing single family homes for the huge growth in population that got into high gear during the War. These days it’s easy to think that back then they should have known how much the land would eventually be worth and thus build on a more sumptuous scale, as some pre-1929 stock market crash communities like Pasadena and Hancock Park were laid out with ample amenities.

But the emphasis after the extreme overcrowding in SoCal during WWII was on building fast and cheap. This was most vividly conveyed to me by a 1946 Robert A. Heinlein non-sci-fi short story about local Southern California politics called “A Bathroom of Her Own.” In it, an experienced political staffer (i.e., RAH) teams up with a talented female political novice (presumably, the 3rd Mrs. Heinlein) to get her elected on a platform of getting houses built fast for the returning troops. Her motivation is that she’s been bunking with her relatives throughout the War, and now after a half-decade, she wants a bathroom of her own, and thinks others should have some privacy and space too.

My parents bought their first house in 1946, a duplex in Sun Valley near Lockheed. My impression is that they didn’t make any money on their investment when they sold it five years later because the supply of housing was so much larger by 1951 than it had been 1946.

Compton was not part of the Watts’ riot of 1965. Sides continues:

… Despite the persistence of racism in Compton, African Americans truly benefited from their suburban relocation. Indeed, the much vaunted suburban dream of peace comfort came true for the thousands of blue-collar African-Americans who moved ot Compton during the 1950s. When white novelist and journalist Richard Elman visited Compton in the 1960s, he was amazed by this new black suburbia:

… Here, it seems, a man has a chance to find decent housing and educate his children. Here it is possible ot enjoy the great lower middle class dream of private life without feeling as if one were in a private hell.

Furthermore, Elman observed, Compton’s superior racially integrated schools created a much better crop of blacks students that could be found in the ghettos of Watts or South Central: “Compton has become a city which sends its Negro high-school graduates to state colleges, to Berkeley and UCLA, and some even can afford to go as far away as Fisk.” Locally, black families increasingly sent their children to Compton Community College, considered at the time to be one of the state’s best community colleges.

As in West Adams, African Americans in Compton perceived themselves(and were perceived by others) as middle class. Elman noticed that in Compton, “people never tire of telling you: “We’re different here than in Watts.’” And they certainly were. … While unemployment passed 30 percent in Watts, it stood at 8.7 percent in Compton. Compared to Watts, a mcuh higher proportion of men and women in Compton worked as full-time factory operatives. …

For Compton’s residents, the city was far from the ghetto. …

In contrast to the physical deterioration of Watts, Compton’s proud black homeowners had meticulously groomed gardens and, for the most part, well-maintained housing.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Blacks, Compton, Race/Crime 
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I was walking down Ventura Blvd. a few days ago, when I saw a wiry Latino man lying in the driveway leading to the big parking garage. I went over and told him to get up, somebody was going to to make a quick turn into the driveway and crush his skull like a ripe melon, and that wasn’t fair to the poor driver. He opened his mouth and a big cloud of marijuana smoke came out. He sat up, then rolled over and went back to sleep with his head in the driveway.

So I got out my phone and called 911. I stood there blocking the driveway for about 3 minutes until a fire department ambulance pulled up to deal with him and then I went on my way.

That got me thinking about the Kitty Genovese story.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, one of the most famous Moral Lessons of Our Time was the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese. It came up all the time in editorials, sermons, graduation speeches, and other forms of upbraiding uplift: All Americans were guilty of apathy, of not wanting to get involved.

The one thing the murder of Kitty Genovese didn’t have much to do with in the respectable discourse of the time was crime. Or if it did, it was proof that Society’s Apathy was preventing us from dealing with the Root Causes of Crime, such as poverty.

The official lesson that respectable, law-abiding citizens were to blame for the woman’s murder was driven home by the famous first sentence of the New York Times article about

“For more than half an hour thirty-eight respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.”

That turns out to have been quite exaggerated, although still true to some extent.

There really often is a “bystander effect” in which individual witnesses assume that somebody else will get around to calling the cops.

For example, I can recall a fireman coming to visit St. Francis de Sales in the late 1960s to talk about Fire Safety. He told us about a lumberyard that a thousand people watched burn to the ground over two hours but nobody called the fire department because everyone assumed somebody else in the big crowd had.

I took that lesson to heart.

But the fireman’s story about the lumberyard was memorable because it was kind of funny, while the Kitty Genovese parable was usually presented in a morally bullying Sixties fashion about What’s Wrong With Society. That’s why Kitty Genovese is in all the Social Psychology textbooks — not to remind you to call 911 if you hear something suspicious, but because it’s part of the narrative of American Society’s Guilt.

But the more I think about the Kitty Genovese story, the more I think it reflects the kind of distractionary tactics we’ve should have become familiar with since then. The story was pushed hard by NYT editor A.M. Rosenthal, who was kind of a genius and kind of not quite right in the head. (Nicholas Lemann’s article in The New Yorker about Rosenthal’s role in framing the story describes his writing as “wildly emotional,” which I too noticed back in the day.)

There really were big, frightening changes going on in American society in 1964, and the Kitty Genovese case was reflective of them, but they weren’t ones that we were supposed to talk about. So we all ended up talking obediently about Apathy.

Looking back, Kitty Genovese’s murder seems reflective of two big 1960s changes, just not the ones we were supposed to notice:

1960s image of mugger (a great Baloo cartoon)

First, I had never heard until very recently that the murderer, Winston Moseley, was black. A historic black crime wave was washing over New York City in 1964, but the race of the confessed killer wasn’t mentioned in the famous NYT article. In fact, I don’t recall the killer’s race ever being mentioned in the 1960s/1970s. As a child, I just assumed he looked like all the muggers in cartoons then. I can see now that mentioning that the killer was black would have been distracting from the political lessons White America was supposed to be drawing at the climax of the Civil Rights era.

As feminist Susan Brownmiller pointed out in the 1970s, sex crimes tended to have political connotations. The big increase in black-on-white sex crimes in New York City, Brownmiller suggested, wasn’t unrelated to the black liberation and black power ideology. (Brownmiller called out the Left’s celebration of books by Franz Fanon and boastful rapist Eldridge Cleaver as indicative.) But that’s complicated and distasteful, so let talk about Apathy.

As D. K. points out in the comments, the New York Times article and Rosenthal’s subsequent book didn’t mention that the murder started out as an attempted rape. I would guess that there were multiple reasons for this, but likely there’s nothing more sensitive for liberals than black men raping white women, since it seems to be a side effect of black liberation (e.g., Reconstruction, the 1960s, and South Africa in the Mandela Era).

Second, Moseley was a serial killer avant la lettre, a sex maniac who confessed to murdering two other women for thrills. He wasn’t just some complete loser: he had a white collar job, a wife, two kids, a mortgage, and a 3 digit IQ. He was just evil. The jury gave him the death penalty, but an appeals court let him off with life, at which point he escaped from prison and kidnapped and raped another woman before being recaptured. Moseley’s still in prison and every two years tries out a new theory on the parole board about why, if you stop and think, he’s the real victim.

But, as Bill James’ recent book, Popular Crime, noted, the concept of “serial killer” didn’t really exist yet, so there wasn’t a conceptual nook for Moseley. Moreover, although there had been what we’d think of as serial killers in the past, they appear, if James can be trusted on this subject, to have grown enormously in numbers in the 1960s and the 1970s, the objective correlative of the madness of the times.

Now that I think about it, I’m struck that I never noticed Moseley’s story before because it’s so familiar. He sounds like he was made up by irate Silent Majority callers to talk radio complaining about liberal judges. Of course, the callers probably were referring to Moseley. His further adventures were covered in the newspapers, but Moseley didn’t become part of The Narrative of the era. The Narrative is controlled in the retelling of the story.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: American Media, Race/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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