The Violence Policy Center (VPC) in Washington D.C. has reported that the murder rate among the black population of Omaha stands at 34.4 per 100,000 people, which is the highest black crime rate in the country. In fact, their rate is double the national average and has earned the city a special distinction.
Homicide rates in the United States are lower than ever. Even in Chicago, one of the nation’s most dangerous cities, murder rates are down 16 percent from just last year. In fact, Chicago has not seen a lower homicide rate since 1965. Violence is not particularly bad within Nebraska either. Over 80 percent of the murders in Nebraska took place in Omaha. The city as a whole, however, still does not have a particularly high homicide rate. In fact, with a murder rate of four per 100,000 people, Omaha’s rates are below the United States’ national average of 4.44 per 100,000 people, of which 90 percent are gun-related.
Following the release of the report, VPC executive director Josh Sugarmann said that the report should serve as a desperate wake-up call to the nation’s leaders who, he believes, have failed to address the incredibly disproportionate rate at which black men and women across the nation are falling victim to homicide.
The average age of the black homicide victim in Omaha is 28 years old but children often add to the murder rate. Omaha caught the nation’s attention on January 15 when 5-year-old Payton Benson was murdered by a stray bullet and its black crime problem became even harder to ignore.
Though Omaha has a low percent of black residences, they do not appear to fare well in the majority-white state. Omaha overall ranks as number one for black families who qualify as low-income and approximately one out of every three black families in the city live in poverty. More than 35 percent of black students within Omaha do not graduate high school.
Considering these abysmal rates, many experts claim that the staggering poverty levels within the black community of the city of just 420,000 people contribute greatly to the exceptionally high murder rates.
According to John Crank, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, many neighborhoods of Omaha have zero murders per year. The homicides are not just racially specific, they are tied to very particular neighborhoods. Cranks has said that much of the violence occurs within specific neighborhoods of northern Omaha and is very often gang-related.
Black Americans make up around 13 percent of the total U.S. population. However, they made up around 50 percent of the homicide victims in a recent study released by the Violence Policy Center. According to the study, the murder rate among the black population of the US is 17.51 per 100,000 people. This stands in stark contrast to the rate for white Americans, which is 2.64 per 100,000 people. This means that black Americans are seven times more likely to be victims of homicide and men fare far worse than women. Black men accounted for 86 percent of black murder victims.
The racial crime gap varied from state-to-state with Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma faring the worst. The nationwide average showed that 86 percent of those black homicide victims died by gun violence. With other cities dropping down the list, Omaha and its black crime problem appear to set to stay at number one.
By Nicci Mende