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Murder, Race and Saving Black Lives

We don't yet know what murder statistics will be for 2017 (they were awful in 2015 and 2016, the largest two year spike in decades).  There is evidence that murders are down in NYC, Chicago, and Washington, DC.  They are up in Baltimore, St. Louis and the densely populated Northern Virginia suburbs.

A friend just sent me the statistics for St. Louis.  They're a wake-up call, and not just because of a third straight annual increase.  They demand attention because the racial breakdown of murder victims veritably shouts at us about what we need to do if we claim to believe that black lives matter.

It's easy to summarize.  We need to suppress the murder rate.

And how do we do that?  This too is easy to summarize, because we spent an entire generation (1991-2014) massively suppressing it.  We did it with more police, more aggressive policing, more overall police-citizen encounters, restraining naive sentencing, and increasing incarceration for violent and drug trafficking offenders.

It's not a matter of what is vaguely called "community trust."  A big majority already trusts the police  --  considerably more than trust the Supreme Court, schools, churches or the medical system.  It's a matter of maintaining the existing trust of everyday citizens  --  and increasing fear of the police in hoodlums and would-be hoodlums.
The racial breakdown of St. Louis murder victims is stark.  There is no room for the usual fancy dance, diversion, or change-the-subject.  If we want to protect black lives, we need to re-enforce, not repeal, the measures we learned for more than 20 years will help us do that.  If we go back to the failed policies of the Sixties and Seventies --  whether or not re-labelled with some gussied-up name to try fool us  --  we'll get the same, bloody failures.  And African Americans, now as then, will get hit first and worst.

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