Ninety percent of those shot, stabbed or beaten to death in Youngstown, Ohio - 26 males and two females - were black
Last year, 82 percent of the victims were black.
A dozen homicides (including two double homicides) were solved by arrest in 2006 with the suspects also being black. Detectives made arrests in 20 of last year's 34 homicides, with all but two of the 31 accused being black. (Some cases involved as many as four suspects).
Census data show the city comprises 51 percent whites, 44 percent blacks and 5 percent Hispanics. Compared with the population, the homicide rate shows blacks are disproportionately represented as victims and suspects.
"Races tend to kill within their own race. If there's a white victim it's usually a white perpetrator, black victim, black perpetrator," said Tammy King, Youngstown State University criminal justice professor. "Homicide victims are going to be those people you know, usually, acquaintances or domestics."
King said it's regrettable to have Youngstown ranked as the ninth-most dangerous city because that's not reflective of the majority of the community. That ranking, released in October, was done by Morgan Quitno, a private research company that uses FBI statistics.
Allen Pierce, also a YSU criminal justice professor, has studied homicides for the past 15 years. He said social scientists point to the proliferation of guns in the hands of immature people as part of the homicide problem.
Calling it a "kind of ignorance," he said immature people don't realize the consequences of shooting at someone. They don't necessarily intend to kill, just shoot.
As far as black-on-black crime, "they live by the guns and die by the guns," Pierce said. Whites will generally "flip the finger" and walk away, he said.
Pierce said his research found that many in the black community use deadly force if disrespect — being "dissed" — is perceived. Those in the black subculture of violence, he said, have to have a gun and respond with a gun.
"If you don't feel good about yourself, it's easy to put you down," he said of the disrespect motive. "Low self-esteem makes them vulnerable."
Black culture is a major cause of this violence:
It's a different culture, Mr. Coward said, compared with 30 or 40 years ago, with some young blacks now feeling disrespected for trivial reasons and reacting with violence. He said they're willing to kill if you pull into a parking spot they wanted or if you blow your horn at them or look at them wrong.
He said many black children are being reared by grandparents or aunts and uncles because the fathers aren't around, possibly because they're in prison. The fathers' poor lifestyle choices have consequences, he added.
Beyond unemployment and the breakdown of families, "When it comes to survival, some of our African-American young people feel like they have to do what they have to do. If they have to go to the penitentiary, they go, get out and do the same thing over again," he said.
"There's a lack of respect for life. I know people don't want to hear it, but when you live in a society that's trying to take everything away from God and take God out of everything, there's nowhere for us to go because we're not teaching principles anymore."
A middle-school teacher at Legacy Academy, Mr. Coward said it's difficult for teachers in these times to instill principles.
The black culture, in general, Pierce said, has never been supportive of education, sometimes because of an anti-white sentiment — the idea that, "Well, whites work so blacks don't." He said kids in the inner city are put down if they do well in school.
32nd victim killed in '06
Robber kills man walking on Falls Ave.