Crime in the US and Trayvon Martin

Crime in the US has been going down for the last 20 years (from the FBI here):

including murder:

The rates of 2010 were: 49% of the rate in 1991 for murder; 53% of the rate in 1991 for all violent crime; 57% of the rate in 1991 for all property crime. These are pretty major reductions, although y0u might not see that on the news.

Still, it’s important to remember that the numbers are still very large: there were an estimated 1.2 million violent crimes and 14,748 murders (or nonnegligent manslaughter) in the US in 2010.

What does that have to do with Trayvon Martin? It helps to answer why this case has become a big deal, as opposed to, for example, this case.

The first part is that there are just too many murders in the US for all of them to become national news. This means that a case has to have a twist for it to get attention and part of that is random. The twist here is that we know who the killer is and he hasn’t been charged with any crime (if the killing was done by a hunter, it probably would not become well-known). That got it on the national news and then it took hold (this is the random part).

Another part is how common this type of thing is for blacks. Blacks are much more likely to be suspected of a crime, which makes them identify with it–they think it could easily be them. And this is where the racism comes in. It’s hard to say if racism was the reason for this incident, but it is responsible for many incidents and that means this case can be used to talk about the issue.

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