Cleveland Cracks 100 Homicides for the Year While Outpacing Chicago in Per Capita Killings


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  • Photo Courtesy of Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons
It's hard news to hear — harder to stomach — on what is shaping up to be the biggest ra-ra Cleveland day of the fall (World Series game 1! Cavs get their rings!); it's also news that runs headlong against the Cleveland Comeback narrative that's being force fed to us by everyone from CNBC to our own local biz community. But hey, you gotta look the truth in the eye: Cleveland just crossed a grim milestone, racking up 100 homicides in the 2016. reports that the 100th homicide was a particular ugly one: on Friday, police found a bag of human remains on Dribble Avenue off E. 55th Street. Two more bodies have fallen since, bringing the total to 102 . . . which puts us on exactly on par with 2015, the second bloodiest year in the last decade. 

This kind of news deserves a quick time-out to chew over the implications, especially considering we're in the middle of a presidential rochambeau where murder stats have turned into a political football. But Cleveland's 2016 numbers track with a longterm trend that unfortunately puts the city in an troubling position. 

Your inner Cleveland booster might be screaming right now: but we're not as bad as Chicago! That midwestern hub, besides being the hometown of a certain soon-to-be-runner-up for all the World Series marbles, has also been turned into a de facto stand-in for urban American violence. It's a convenient place to point fingers, considering Chi-town's murder count in 2015 was 478, well above cities like New York, Baltimore, and Cleveland. 

But the sheer numbers don't tell the whole story. The Trace recently published a look at the murders per capita in 2o American cities between 2010 and 2015.

Based on that assessment, Chicago had seen 16.4 murder per every 100,000 residents. That rate is actually lower than 17 other American cities, including Cleveland. Over the same time period, Cleveland numbered 20.0 murders per 100,000 residents. Only seven cities (New Orleans, Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Oakland, Kansas City, and Cincinnati) outpaced the Cleveland rate, and we actually have a higher murder rate than places like Atlanta, Philadelphia, Memphis, Washington, D.C., and Miami.  

To say that the nation is seeing a rising murder rate — a frequent bark coming out of a certain presidential wannabe — is both accurate but missing the point, a point that directly applies to Cleveland. The National Institute of Justice found that the murder rate across American rose 11 percent in 2015, "jumping more last year than it had in nearly half a century," the New York Times reports

But the push behind the jump is actually only coming from a few cities. According to the times, half the national increase has come from just seven cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville, Washington, and, yup, Cleveland. 

So, as we cross the 100 murder mark, think about it like this: these deaths aren't part of a national increase, we're not passively being caught up in a tide of violence; instead, Cleveland's rising body count is literally driving the national increase. 

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