Murders are up again in Philadelphia, and the city still has the highest homicide rate of the nation's 10 most populous cities, according to statistics provided by law-enforcement officials. Most of the victims are African American, and authorities in the City of Brotherly Love are appealing to the black community there to confront the problem of black-on-black crime.
The city's homicide tally stood at 324 Wednesday, including the eight victims allegedly killed in previous years by West Philly abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Last year, 306 people were killed, and the year before, 302.
But despite the jump in homicides this year, city officials prefer to focus on the past. When they compare numbers, they go back to 2007, when murders in Philly were at the five-year high of 392. Looking at it that way, they get a 17 percent decrease in the murder rate from 2007 to 2011.
Police spokesman Lt. Raymond Evers said the department compares this year's tally with 2007's to see long-range trends. "It's hard to get a trend between two years," he said …
Mayor [Michael] Nutter, at a debate during his 2007 campaign, pledged that he wouldn't seek re-election if the 2010 homicide tally was more than the 288 killed in 2002. Then at his inauguration in January 2008, he set what turned out to be an overly ambitious goal of slashing the city's murder rate by 30 to 50 percent in three to five years. He won re-election this year.
… Black citizens comprised 84 percent of homicide victims from January to June 2011, according to police statistics. Evers said he expects that trend will remain consistent once numbers are crunched through December.
"Responsibility has to be taken by members of the African-American community to address the issues that deal with this particular problem," [deputy mayor for public safety Everett] Gillison said. "African-American males killed by other African-American males is literally the elephant in the room."
Chad Dion Lassiter, president of the Black Men at Penn School of Social Work, agreed: "Some of the black politicians in Philadelphia sit quiet on institutional racism and the black homicide rate."…
Lassiter's right about our leadership's failure to confront the problem head on, but black citizens also need to take responsibility for what's going on in our communities. The violence has to stop.