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Racial Disparities In Whose Killings Get Solved In St. Louis

Since 2012, five homicides have occurred along a single block in north St. Louis, with none of the perpetrators apprehended. Since 2007, eight killings have taken place on the block of Shulte Avenue, all victims being Black, yet none of the cases resolved. The unsolved killings reflect reality in St. Louis. In a city where nearly 90% of homicide victims are Black, police have struggled to solve the killings of Black people, The Marshall Project reports. Between 2014 and 2023, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department solved fewer than half the homicides of Black people, but solved two-thirds of cases involving White victims during the same period, according to an analysis of police data by APM Reports, St. Louis Public Radio and The Marshall Project. The news organizations found that the department at times struggled to solve homicides in the past decade partly due to shoddy detective work, staffing shortages and eroding community trust.

Some Black community leaders have contended that police aren’t making the same effort to solve crimes involving Black victims compared to crimes involving White victims. “These are communities that don’t trust the police,” said community activist Jamala Rogers, the co-founder of the Organization for Black Struggle. “These are communities that have had bad relationships and experiences with the police.” While nearly half of the city’s population is Black, the detectives tasked with investigating homicides are overwhelmingly White. Families of homicide victims on Shulte Avenue echoed Rogers’ concerns. They said contact with police investigators was short-lived, and they have little hope of ever seeing justice for their loved ones. Police officials say lack of witness cooperation is a major reason why many homicides aren’t solved. But Black community leaders say many residents don’t trust officers after years of targeted policing in Black neighborhoods and incidents of excessive force against Black people.


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