Los Angeles’ success reducing its homicide rate is frequently cited as evidence that Chicago isn’t doing enough to fight gun violence.
Though Los Angeles County is significantly larger than Chicago, only 246 homicides were reported there last year — its murder rate of 6.3 per 100,000 residents is less than half of Chicago’s. But back in 2002, its total number of murders, 653, was almost identical to Chicago’s, where the murder rate has fallen more slowly.
Now one Los Angeles political analyst who grew up in Chicago says he wants to share the tricks that he says have helped his adopted city.
Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Earl Ofari Hutchinson calls on communities affected by violence to band together to demand increased funding for violence prevention programs, job creation and training. While many of his proposed fixes, such as a CeaseFire program, have been tried or suggested in Chicago in the past, Hutchinson says community support meant they worked in Los Angeles:
We relentlessly challenged local officials to take a hard look at the deeper reasons for the black-on-black carnage. Despite the pet theories of liberals and conservatives, blacks aren’t killing each other because they are violent or crime-prone by nature, or solely because they are poor and oppressed. Or even because they are acting out the obscene and lewd violence they see and hear on TV, films and in gangsta rap lyrics. The violence results from a combustible blend of cultural and racial baggage many blacks carry. In the past, crimes committed by blacks against other blacks were often ignored or lightly punished. The implicit message was that black lives didn’t matter. This perceived devaluation of black lives has encouraged disrespect for the law and has forced many blacks to internalize anger and displace aggression onto others, almost always those perceived as weaker and more vulnerable.
A Los Angeles Daily News story earlier this year gave the police more credit, and said the high level of immigration into Los Angeles may have played a role in the reduced homicide rate.