Even as gang-related homicides in the Los Angeles area have been dropping in the last several years, the proportion of such killings in which race was a factor has increased, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said this week, according to the Los Angeles Times. Homicide investigators reported that race “played a role” in 16 percent of the 207 gang-related killings in 2005, rising to 19 percent of 133 gang slayings last year, said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.
In the first six months of this year, 25 percent of the 56 gang-related slayings involved either blacks killing Latinos or vice versa. That compares with 13 percent for the same period last year. Police officials in the city of Los Angeles contend that race remains a rare factor in gang killings. A Los Angeles Times examination of slayings in 2007 largely backed Police Chief William Bratton’s assertion about the racial factor in gang killings. The analysis found that nearly 90% of both black and Latino homicide victims had been killed by suspects of their own race. County Sheriff Lee Baca argues that the same racial animosity that permeates the county jail system is spilling onto the streets of Los Angeles County.