L.A. Homicides See Surging Black and Latino Involvement Post-Pandemic
Kevin Rector and the Los Angeles Times analyzed crime data of L.A. homicides concluding that in the 18-month period from January 2020 through this June, there were 266 Latino victims killed in L.A., compared with 182 Latino victims in the prior 18-month period — a 46.2% increase. There were 192 Black victims, compared with 151 Black victims in the previous period, for a 27.2% increase.
Victims whose race was described as “other” were fewer in number, but increased more sharply — from 14 to 30, for a 114.3% increase. White victims, also smaller in number, increased marginally, from 38 to 40 victims, or a 5.3% increase.
Latinos account for 49% of the city’s population, according to U.S. Census data, and 50% of homicide victims during the more recent 18-month period. Black people account for just 9% of the city’s population, but 36% of the victims. Non-Latino white people account for about 29% of L.A.’s population, but less than 8% of the victims.
Data on homicide suspects are less complete — and therefore less conclusive — than victim data because many killings go unsolved. However, available data do indicate similar racial disparities among homicide suspects.
Of those killings between 1998 and 2020 where police recorded a description of the suspect’s race, 50% were Latino and 34% were Black, while 4% were white and 3% were listed as “other.” This year, 42% of noted suspects have been described as Latino, 46% Black and 4% white, according to LAPD data.
While detectives this year are solving nearly 70% of homicides, he said, they are only solving about 20% of nonfatal shootings, with 250 more cases to handle than in the year prior. David S. Abrams of the University of Pennsylvania summates what we see from these L.A. homicides that transcend race:
The coronavirus pandemic has spawned enormous changes, from economic distress and high unemployment to disrupted schooling and tragic public health outcomes. Even before stay-at-home orders were issued in many places and before there were large numbers of confirmed infections, there was a massive decrease in reported rates for almost all types of crime. In the months following the initial lockdowns, as people adjusted to the new normal and cities started to ease COVID-related restrictions, crime rates in the U.S. continued to follow very different patterns compared to previous years. However, the magnitude of the impact has varied by type of crime and there have been notable exceptions: While overall crime rates are lower than they have been in past years, homicides and shootings are much higher than usual.