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December 27, 2004
Boston Globe Scoop: Crime Still Exists

Murder has declined nationwide, and New York City has reversed the growth rate for violent crime over the past thirteen years. The Boston Globe covers this -- but as a sideline to a story about a family that has seen three of its sons murdered in New York City during that same period. The Boston Globe titles its article "Murders Drop, Fear Continues":

When one of her sons was gunned down, Louise Brown found the body on a street, streaked with rain and blood. Rather than offer comfort, police officers there ''asked me for his Social Security number," she said, staring blankly and shaking her head. ''I'll never forget that."

More suffering was to come: Two more of Brown's five sons have died in shootings in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the latest three months ago.

That opening misses some important context. The first murder occurred in 1991 and the second in 1997, and all three happened within blocks of each other. The neighborhood has a thriving gang society and drug trade, and while the mother no longer lives there, all of her sons stayed in the city. Why? The Globe never explains. It does allow Ms. Brown to state her belief in the true culprit:

The experience has made her wonder whether crime is down in any meaningful way, and how deadly weapons end up in angry young hands.

"I want to know where all the guns are coming from that are killing my kids," she said. "Somebody should be held accountable."

We could start with the people who actually did the killing, although one would run afoul of Brent Staples if that approach was taken (see previous post). It's not hard to see where the Globe wants to take this story. They want to use Ms. Brown and her undeniably heartbreaking losses to drive home the point that despite the 13-year decline in serious crime in New York -- a decline ushered in by serious prosecution and long-term incarcerations of serious and serial felons -- the justice system is unfair, arbitrary, and failing, even when their own reporting acknowledges the truth:

Citywide, serious crime is expected to fall for the 13th straight year in 2004. The homicide tally so far this year is down 4.4 percent from last year and should stay below 600 for the third year in a row, a level comparable to that in the early 1960s. New York had a record 2,245 killings in 1990.

Murder is on the decline nationwide. Several other big cities -- including Washington, Los Angeles, and Chicago -- are expected to see their murder rates drop when the 2004 count is made, and an FBI report earlier this month said murders dropped by nearly 6 percent in the first half of the year.

Unfortunately for Ms. Brown, we cannot prevent all crime; all we can do is pursue true justice for its victims. That will not come as long as we make excuses for the criminals or shift blame to the inanimate objects used for the murders. The Globe wants its readers to believe that any crime negates the positive change new, tough policies have brought to the US. One wonders why the Globe would want to retreat on crime.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 27, 2004 12:32 PM

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