A Way to Read the Homicide Blog on the Los Angeles Times Website

by B.J. Delas Armas on 11/21/2007 03:14:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

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I just came from a lecture at the LA Public Library about the possibility of eliminating gangs in LA.

The moderator happened to be the writer of the homicide blog at the LA Times.

Homicide Report

My beef with the blog is that while it is extremely informative, it plays onto people's fears because it gives incomplete information about whether victims and murderers know each other or not.

It's a blog full of victims. We read about is the victim's race, age, gender, where they were killed, and how they were killed. We read stats about how black and Latino males are the most adversely affected population. We might even read about how the job market correlates with homicide.

Unless commentors speak online, what we don't read about as often is a relationship a victim and a murderer might have had. We often don't read a story of a life; we read cold, dumb facts about cold, dumb murders. There are no positive stories of people doing anything to prevent anything in the neighborhood.

Not knowing these backstories, a fuller context, regardless of what's in the reporters' capabilities, make the murders seem like murders are randomly executed by people on people they don't even know. Apparently 77% of rape victims know who raped them, I wonder what that percentage is for murder victims. How much acquaintance murder is there compared to stranger murder?

Perhaps there could be better followups, more people assigned to cover stories, better police detail?

Not making these stories or these distinctions of acquaintance homicide paves the way for people from the outside and AWAY from those murders to disengage, stereotype, and label. It is probably this randomosity of the appearance of these murders, uncertainty that really scares people from the outside and causes them to make blanket comments about cutting off people's sources of livelihoods, like hip-hop concerts, parties, gatherings etc. The uncertainty imposed by a few whose own lives mirror that same uncertainty.

In a murder which has plenty of online responses, someone is almost ALWAYS bound to make a comment about personal responsibility like this one from a November 12th murder "Instead of people blaming the police, why was a 14 year old at this kind of party? This is a hallmark of the black community, blame the police for not doing enough, then when they do attempt to help, hold them at fault. Where is the personal responsibility for the parents, family, or friends of this kid?"

While there is reverance and a general sense of respect in the blogs, the dumbassery in some of the comments escalates, especially over the death of young teenagers. This comment was made over a 14-year old who got stabbed to death while the police and response team apparently did nothing to help him. Some commentors used the example of yet another black/brown teen as a springboard to offer all we needed to know to prevent murders: avoid hip-hop functions and listen to their anecdotes on parenting as if this would bring back the kid or that it would teach people a lesson.

In other words, people from the outside can make these big broad generalizations and recommendations because everything in the neighborhood is dangerous. The proof is in their google map of murders.

Left with just the facts of the place of murder, the time of murder, without questions as to why they were murdered (a concrete answer-seeking why) you can only make the same deductions and come up with the same answers.

To get a better grasp of these murders the questions should center around: how often is it completely random? How often is it acquaintence murder? How often is it on stupid young dumb male fighting over stupid shit like the way that x and x looked at x kind of violence? How often is the murder enacted in a whim? How often are these murders premeditated? How often the murderer is employed, has a family, etc...basically if they had much to lose? What was a victim gaining by being a certain place in time?

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