Los Angeles Police Department officials, alarmed by this year’s rise in homicides, are trying to debunk the notion that racial animosity has been at the heart of many of the killings, reports the Los Angeles Times. A detailed analysis leaves little doubt that race is not the prime factor and that “the most likely suspect is one that looks just like their victim,” said Deputy Chief Charlie Beck. By Monday, 93 people had been killed in Los Angeles this year, compared with 69 last year, As the weeks pass, the bloodshed in 2008 grows worse than the previous year. The rise is outpacing those in New York City and Chicago — cities that have seen significant, but less dramatic, increases this year.
Officials said that in cases in which police have information about the suspect, the vast majority of alleged assailants in the killings of Latinos were other Latinos and the vast majority in killings of blacks were other blacks. Police Chief William Bratton is counting on the raw numbers to deflate what several officials called the “rumors” and “myth” of violent racial tensions between blacks and Latinos. That sentiment has gained credence in recent weeks with several high-profile slayings and injuries in which suspected Latino gang members killed blacks. Black leaders, agreeing that there is no evidence to support the notion of a full-scale, widespread race-driven battle between Latinos and blacks, cautioned Bratton and others not to downplay the idea that race has played a role in some killings.