Murders reported by local law enforcement increased a whopping 10 percent over the year before, according to the 2015 Semiannual Uniform Crime Report released by the FBI Monday.
Part of this increase was fueled by interracial homicides, which have climbed to their highest levels since President Barack Obama took office in 2008. The number of black people killed by whites has surged from 187 black victims to 229, a mark-up of almost 25 percent, while the number of white people killed by blacks went from 446 to 500, a mark-up of 12 percent. Overall, such interracial killings have increased by 13 percent from 2014.
These murders account for just 12 percent of the roughly 6,000 homicides last year in which police had information about the race of both the killer and the victim, an increase of one percentage point since 2014. About 8.6 percent of black victims were killed by whites, and 15.8 percent of white victims killed by blacks.
The 10 percent hike in homicides was concentrated most in cities such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C., where murder rose by more than 50 percent. Black victims accounted for nearly two-thirds of the increase from 2014 to 2015, translating to 944 murders out of 1,500 additional murders nationwide.
Yet black people have “consistently accounted for close to half the country’s homicide victims,” according to US News & World Report. Of the 13,455 cases from last year in which racial information was listed, 7,039 victims were black, while 5,854 were white — 52.3 percent and 43.5 percent, respectively.
This disparity becomes especially pronounced in light of the fact that blacks only comprise 13.3 percent of the U.S. population. Whites account for 77.1 percent of the overall U.S. population.
Yet the vast majority of homicides consist of people killed by others of their own race. About 89 percent of black people killed in 2015 involved black-on-black homicides, with the number of blacks killed by blacks rising to 2,380 last year, an increase of eight percent from 2014.
“You hurt people who are a lot like you. That’s how it works,” David Kennedy, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice told US News & World Report.
Meanwhile, white-on-white killings as a proportion of all white homicides fell to 81.3 percent, but the overall number rose 3.5 percent to 2,574 victims in 2015.
It’s difficult to draw any sweeping conclusions from the data in the FBI report. Despite the fact that crime did increase overall last year, it has also remained near 30-year lows. “We still have so much work to do,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch told the Chicago Tribune. But “2015 still represented the third-lowest year for violent crime in the past two decades.”
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