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Report: Pa. ranks 7th nationwide for Black homicides | Friday Morning Coffee

May 21, 2021 7:07 am

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

A new report quantifies the devastating toll that gun violence is taking on Pennsylvania’s Black residents, with the Keystone State ranking 7th in the nation for Black homicides. Handguns are responsible for nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) of those deaths, according to research by the Violence Policy Center, a Washington D.C.-based research and advocacy organization.

In the 15 years the study has been conducted, Pennsylvania has consistently ranked among the top 10 states with the highest Black homicide rates, finishing at No. 1 three times, according to CeaseFirePA, the Philadelphia-based anti-gun violence organization that released the data on Thursday.

The rate of firearms-related deaths in Pennsylvania is slightly higher than the national rate of 86 percent. Nationwide, two-thirds of homicide victims were killed with a handgun, researchers found.

(Image via The Violence Policy Center)

“Black communities in Pennsylvania are facing a slow moving massacre from gun violence,” CeaseFirePA Executive Director Adam Garber said in a statement, noting the lack of legislative action in Harrisburg on gun violence reduction measures. “Sadly, many elected officials still refuse to pass policies that would help end this constant state of fear.”

Researchers compiled the report using the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report for 2018. And the new 2020 data suggests that the state’s Black homicide problem could well be getting worse.

“Pittsburgh has seen a staggering 90 percent increase in shootings this year. Nearly 800 people have been shot in Philadelphia this year, on track to become the deadliest year on record if current rates hold. And a significant portion of victims are Black,” CeaseFirePA noted in its statement.

“Gun violence remains a significant public health epidemic that must be addressed as such. Moreover, we must research, identify, and institutionalize successful interventions to reduce risks and address the immense trauma families and communities affected by violence continue to experience,” Kenneth Huston, the president of the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference said in a statement. “We must also acknowledge the multifaceted risks including social determinants and structural inequities that harm communities through multiple complex pathways.”

(Image via The Violence Policy Center)

The 88 percent of Black homicide victims killed with handguns “underscores the need for gun safety laws that address all types of firearms and reduce illegal firearm trafficking, such as requiring reporting of lost or stolen weapons,” the CeaseFirePA statement notes.

“In 2018, Black men, women, boys, and girls were only 14 percent of our nation’s population, yet accounted for 50 percent of all homicide victims. These deaths devastate families, traumatize communities, and almost always involve a gun. The goal of our research is to help support community advocates and organizations working on the ground to stop this lethal violence while, at the same time, continuing to educate and engage the public and policymakers on the need to address this ongoing national crisis,” Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann said in a statement.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

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Wins for diverse candidates, including Black and and transgender hopefuls on Tuesday night further solidified a shifting Democratic primary electorate. Stephen Caruso examines the forces driving those changes.

Even though voters moved to limit his emergency powers on Tuesday night, Gov. Tom Wolf extended the state’s COVID-19 disaster declaration on Thursday, the day it was due to expire, Marley Parish reports.

The union representing 36,000 Pennsylvania educators has called for the resignation of most of the trustees of the state teacher’s pension fund, Stephen Caruso reports.

Support from Philadelphia’s police union sank the fortunes of Democratic district attorney hopeful Carlos Vega, while incumbent prosecutor Larry Krasner profited from support from the city’s Black community, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

With vaccinations safely in their arms, Philadelphia’s queer sports teams are looking forward to a summer on the field, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.

So you’ve probably heard some on the American right carping that the nation is a republic and not a democracy. In a new column, I explain what they mean when they say that.

On our Commentary Page this morning, Roe v. Wade gave people who can get pregnant a choice about having children. A University of Florida scholar explains how that changed their lives. And a former probation officer who now works for the Pennsylvania office of the American Civil Liberties Union says county governments statewide aren’t waiting for Harrisburg to do something about probation reform.

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Philadelphia City Hall (Image via pxHere.com)

Elsewhere.
Philadelphia City Council
 has advanced a bill providing wage and health benefits to workers at Philadelphia International Airport, the Inquirer reports.
Gambling revenues hit another record high in April, the Post-Gazette reports.
The state will fire the vendor that mishandled contract tracing data, the Associated Press reports (via PennLive).
Allentown has blown through six police chiefs in six yearsThe Morning Call explains the turnover.
Lancaster County’s Prison Board has approved a plan to buy a Lancaster Township farm for the site of a new prisonLancasterOnline reports.
The Luzerne County bench is set to become evenly split between Democrats and Republicans after Tuesday’s election, the Citizens’ Voice reports.
The state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued Montgomery County for blocking attorney-client meetings in the Montgomery County Jail, WHYY-FM reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th Districtwas among the Republicans who voted against a bill combating hate crimes against Asian-Americans, the York Daily Record reports (paywall).
Meanwhile, Perry played down the events of Jan. 6 while defending his vote against the commission charged with studying it, NPR reports (via WITF-FM).
And Democrat Eugene DePasquale is floating the idea of a 2022 rematch against Scott Perry, PoliticsPA reports.
Erie County’s minority residents are lagging in their COVID-19 vaccination ratesGoErie reports.
Talking Points Memo goes deep on New York City’s ‘interesting’ race for mayor.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
State Treasurer Stacy Garrity holds a 12 p.m. reception at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh. Admission runs $1,000 to $5,000.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Joe Ducey at CBS-21 in Harrisburg, who celebrates today.

Heavy Rotation.
Let’s not mess around. Here’s a straight-up anthem for your Friday morning. It’s ‘Rock and Roll Star,’ by Oasis.

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Montreal’s Carey Price made 35 saves for the Habs on Thursday, as they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in the first game of their North Division playoff series.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.

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