Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog


Murder in Los Angeles: The Numbers are Frightening, For Some

Posted on: June 2, 2008 at 4:30 p.m.

As of May 18 of this year, there were 315 murders in the city of Los Angeles. For a city with 4 million or so people, that's not a very high number, however a further look into those statistics reveal not only a terrible reality, but a scary revelation of present day LA.

Of those 315 murders, 269 were black or Latino, and only 30 victims were white. Los Angeles has long had racial challenges (highlighted by the 1969 and 1994 riots), but this number is staggering when taken into consideration. African Americans don't even make up 10% of the total population of Los Angeles and yet they total over 24% of all murder victims. Latinos are roughly a little less than half the total population of Los Angeles, and yet they number far more than half the number of murder victims.

Almost all of these murders involved weapons, and almost 80% of them involved guns. Many of these tragedies involve gangs and/or gang activities, and the city of Los Angeles has long talked about trying to stem the tide of gang violence (with very little success). Murder seems like a black and white crime, a person is alive one minute and dead the next. However, this crime is not always obvious, and there are often mitigating circumstances.

The war against violent crime can often net innocent people, as evidenced by the countless inmates currently being freed on DNA evidence who were on death row. If you've been arrested on murder charges or need advice, contact a competent attorney to protect your rights from being violated.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, jury trial defense

Comments:

Sally Derohanessian on June 10, 2008 at 4:04 p.m. wrote:

I would also like to add, and just as someone else noted, more and more young teenagers are becoming involved in gangs and my question is how and why? I feel there is a dividing line that is marked by the threshold at every household's doorstep, and when an adolescent crosses that threshold to step out of the house to dwell in the streets everyday, who becomes responsible for them? Are not the mothers and fathers questioning their whereabouts? There needs to be more control in disciplining these kids at an early age so that they grow to make wiser choices. And they obviously are not spending time with their families because they try to find a 'family' by joining these gangs. Taking away guns will not solve the problem either because they will resort to other weapons; and what do we do then take away knives from their hands? I feel we're so used to directing the issue of gangs at the murder scenes we watch on television that we forget to address the root of the problem. A quick fix will not help in breaking such a strong cycle of gang violence in these neighborhoods. We need to take the time to handle the issue from bottom-up.


Sally Derohanessian on June 10, 2008 at 3:56 p.m. wrote:

After interning for the L.A. Mayor's Office in Washington, D.C. this Winter Quarter, I learned a lot about the Mayor's priorities through weekly staff meetings. I also learned that one of the biggest issues on his agenda is gangs and gang violence in the City of Los Angeles. Fortunately, it is one of the Mayor's top priorities to reduce gang violence by providing more after-school programs to keep teenagers off the street. I do think that this will help, but I definitely don't think that it is enough to reduce and eventually prevent gang violence. I think the problem needs to be treated from diverse angles, and I'm glad to see that Tatiana mentioned some of them - 'the food that we eat, the music that we listen to...' I'd like to add that in addition to these important factors which contribute to an individuals' lifestyle and development at an early age, I feel that the mothers and fathers who are seen regularly on television mourning the loss of their children as a result of drive-by shootings and gang violence need to work together as a community in order to build safer havens for their children as well as their neighbor's children. It's easier said than done, but when a community stands up together it will be harder to ignore these problems, because as we can see, such disadvantaged neighborhoods are constantly ignored by the government and investing in more after-school programs alone is not going to change that.


M Phung Tu on June 10, 2008 at 2:24 p.m. wrote:

The statistical number of homicides is not truly shocking to me. I grew up in Oakland and although the homicide statistical number there is not as high as LA's, but ratio-wise it is worth comparing. Every day when I turn on the news at home, there's at least one homicide somewhere in Oakland; most places were where my friends lived and some were right outside my house, once it was in front of my car where I was sitting 15 minutes before. I agree with many bloggers above that this sort of homicide is a geographical crime; where the scene of the crime is a poor underdeveloped neighborhood. There are many reasons why a person would commit to such crime. But I think the main factor is younger generations are brought up in a violent environment with little or no opportunity to break away. Budget cuts affecting the education would hurt the underdeveloped neighborhoods the most. Because the children are not educated nor encouraged to, thus they turn to gangs and violent to belong and gain status, power, and income that education would have given them.


Sally Derohanessian on June 10, 2008 at 2:29 a.m. wrote:

After interning for the L.A. Mayor


Samantha Chen on June 9, 2008 at 10:07 p.m. wrote:

Even though statistically, the murder rates in L.A. are not high, the actual numbers are. Peoples' lives are not statistics and the end of 315 lives is a great tragedy. Even though much of this occurs in the more impoverished cities within L.A., I feel like crime is spreading rampantly. I am extremely paranoid so every night while I drive home, or walk to the door I am constantly checking my surroundings. I never really feel safe, even when I am in my house behind locked doors and gates. I live in the suburb of Arcadia and it is a fairly safe neighborhood. Recently I feel like it has gotten significantly worse through increase in gang relations. I have many friends in this situation. A few years ago, one of my best friends was involved in a kidnap and assault situation with three other friends. She was caught up in a two year lawsuit thereafter, and even though she is my friend, I still feel so terribly for the victim of the crime. Another one of my friends was recently jailed for drug possession and his close friends all say that he will be locked up for a while. I did not understand why he would be in for so long, but they then told me that he was already on probation for a stabbing. The last time I had a long talk with him, he informed me that they were trying to push more to save up and buy a gun. I told him I thought it was stupid, but now I feel like I should have done more to straighten him out. The violence that even my closest friends are committing are terrible, and I can't even imagine living in a town where death is a commonplace occurrence. However, most of Arcadia is safe, and I just happen to know those that tend to make trouble so I might be more aware of the violence that takes place here.


Sally Derohanessian on June 9, 2008 at 5:29 p.m. wrote:

This past Winter Quarter, I completed an internship program in Washington, D.C. where I worked at the L.A. Mayor


Ruchi Banka on June 9, 2008 at 10:52 a.m. wrote:

The number of African Americans and Latinos who were murder victims is alarming and shows how more targeted focus on gang reduction needs to be taken. Although it is not easy to try to stop or minimize gang violence, it does seem like city actions are being taken. For example, L.A. Mayor, Mr. Villaraigosa, is attempting to implement various gang intervention strategies such as job placement programs, parenting classes, counseling services, and after school programs for children to provide knowledge about gangs. He has also created an office focused on gang reduction that will provide resources and programs, such as those mentioned previously, to areas that are most affected by gangs. These efforts seem to provide the needed attention this issue deserves. Just as Villaraigosa is attempting to implement various strategies, more actions such as these may be able to minimize the number of murders and gang-related activity even further.


Tatiana Vardanyan on June 9, 2008 at 2:25 a.m. wrote:




Tatiana Vardanyan on June 9, 2008 at 2:24 a.m. wrote:

'Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only love can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that' - Martin Luther King Jr. Crime and violence feeds off of more crime and violence. We need to work on rehabilitating or preventing certain groups who are more vulnerable to crime i.e. the youth from crime-ridden neighborhoods. There are many person + environment factors that may contribute to such alarmingly high statistics. Let's start by looking into the motivation behind joining gangs, perhaps then will we have a better understanding of this epidemic. Let's look at the food we consume, the video games we play, the leaders we advocate, the music we listen to, and the knowledge we adopt. The reported crime stats clearly do not represent the demographics of the Los Angeles county, thats something to ponder and its beyond what statistics can offer.


Gabe Rose on June 7, 2008 at 2:02 p.m. wrote:

Alas, I guess these stats don't really come as a shocking surprise to most. It never ceases to amaze me how truly segregated LA still is in many ways- the west side, south central, east la, k town- and of course most of the violence gets concentrated in the poorest areas. It's crazy how this stuff happens literally every day in 'those' neighborhoods, but if it ever happens somewhere like Westwood, all of a sudden its a huge news story and a top priority for LAPD. I think there was a gang shooting in Westwood in 1988 or something that perfectly illustrated the point- which is justifiably extremely frustrating for those who live with this as a daily reality.


Jessica Humphrey on June 6, 2008 at 7:22 p.m. wrote:

In 2006 in my hometown of Oakland, California there were 147 homocides for a population of roughly 407,000. About 66% of homocide victims that year were African American, 21% were latino, and 13% were of other ethnicities. While I am not as familiar with the greater Los Angeles area, I can only speculate that many of these homocides are the result of gang violence and are primarily confined to certain areas and neighborhoods of the city. Similar to Oakland, Los Angeles has many different neighborhoods that have strikingly different demographics. If the homocide rate were to continue at this pace, the end of the year total for Los Angeles would be about 650. Although the homocide per capita rate would be much lower than Oakland's, it's interesting to see that the demographics of homocide victims is roughly similar for the two cities.


Amanda Hester on June 6, 2008 at 1:52 p.m. wrote:

Nearly every day that I turn on the local news I hear of a young black or hispanic person having been shot and killed. We see their mother and family on tv crying and asking what happened. What happened is that gang life is so prevalent that the members of gangs are becoming younger and younger. Children are losing their lives over issues that they dont even understand. More attention needs to be paid to educating young people in high risk areas about how to stay out of gang life and a viable alternative needs to be provided. It is alot easier said than done but in order to really have an impact on the high gang-related murder rates and other gang-related crimes the city of Los Angeles needs to focus on stunting the high growth rates of gangs. Teens need to know they have a safe alternative to gang life, something that is very hard to provide. Attention also needs to be paid to the gun black market. Gangs are getting their hands on guns that are very dangerous to the communities they reside in.


Tyler J. Marik on June 5, 2008 at 5:51 p.m. wrote:

I have spent my entire life as a bit of a pacifist, someone who shudders at the sight or mention of a gun or violent crime. I think that psychologically and physically there is a huge difference between a stabbing killing and a violent crime where a gun has been discharged. The amount of energy and psychological willpower it takes to pull the trigger of a gun to end someones life is not very great. You must be motivated, yes, but in the past and in the present I stress that it takes significantly more will power to kill someone with any other weapon than a gun. Guns contributing to 80% of all murders should be an alarming number. I would venture to say half of that number would not occur if a gun was not available to the parties involved. I would also venture to say that violent crimes where a gun was not available would not occur nearly as much in gangs. It is certainly 'in' in modern gang culture to have an affinity with firearms, above all weapons. I hate to make my argument too parochial, but I honestly feel that Guns in this case are the root of all evil. Take guns away, and murders in Los Angeles would drop dramatically.


Jessica Simanian on June 3, 2008 at 3:08 p.m. wrote:

Although these numbers don't lie, people don't have a say in the family and community that they are brought up in. it is obvious that some simply have an advantage in life and so the circumstances are what make it unfair.


Kelsey Kernstine on June 3, 2008 at 3:40 a.m. wrote:

It is frightening to hear about the number of murders in Los Angeles. Some people may think it is a small number, but I feel that 315 is a huge number. Granted Los Angeles is a huge city, but something needs to be done to minimize this number. However, it does say that city of Los Angeles struggles to handle the gangs in LA. It is also interesting to learn that over 75 percent of the murders were black or Latino, while they are smaller population of Los Angeles as well. It is assumed that most of these murders involve gangs and guns. It is sad that these gang members resort to murdering as the way to show their anger. Also, it is interesting to learn about these numbers as although Los Angeles is a huge area, much of Los Angeles is suburbs and nicer areas. In other words, 315 murders is a lot when you think that many of these murders are not happening in the nice locations of Los Angeles, but rather just certain locations in LA.


Aida Ter-Khachatryan on June 2, 2008 at 6:08 p.m. wrote:

It is scary to know that we are living in a city with such a high crime rate. The area that I live in is not that bad, but I still worry sometimes when I am coming home late at nights. You never know what can happen. I even worry when I step out of the car and walk over to my door step. With the things that go on today (especially in LA), we can never be too sure about being safe because of the dangers that are out there. At lease once a week we hear about either someone getting rapped, molested,robbed or even killed.









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