Black-on-Black Crime Is Not a New Problem, but More City Leaders Are Starting to Focus On It

Middletown police made eight arrests after they discovered a methamphetamine lab while executing search warrants Wednesday. (Photo: Liz Dufour The Enquirer)
Middletown police made eight arrests after they discovered a methamphetamine lab while executing search warrants Wednesday.
(Photo: Liz Dufour The Enquirer)

Black-on-black crime is not a new problem, but it’s getting a new focus from city leaders who say.

“We’re all in this together. Even if you live in West Chester or Sharonville, Cincinnati is the economic center, and it must be viewed as a safe, clean place to live and do business.” James Craig Cincinnati Police Chief

Khyren Landrum is learning how to walk and climb steps again in physical therapy. He clings to the handles of his walker or railings, wincing when he puts any weight on his left foot.

The 4-year-old Avondale boy – caught in suspected gang crossfire and shot March 20 while walking home with his mother from a park – sustained a bone fracture and nerve damage when a bullet blasted through his left hip and out his buttocks.

“He doesn’t want to go outside. He doesn’t want to be away from me,” is how Aiesha Landrum, 30, describes her son since the shooting. “He never said much before. Now he doesn’t say anything.”

Khyren, for his part, says of the day near the park, “I got shotted.”

There have been three more homicides since Khyren was shot March 20, bringing the city’s total to 12 for the year. Five African-Americans, ages 17 to 21, were shot April 1 on Rockdale Avenue in Avondale, just blocks from where Khyren was hit.

As the little boy works to recover, his shooting is the catalyst for unprecedented public attention being paid in Cincinnati to the decades-old problem of black-on-black crime. A special session of City Council will be held 6 p.m. Monday to discuss a topic previously discussed as only a tangent to economic development or Downtown safety.

The meeting comes at a time when homicides in Cincinnati increasingly involve a black victim and black assailant. An Enquirer analysis of city crime data shows that since the start of 2005, 86.1 percent of homicides in which an arrest was made are cases of black-on-black violence, up from 75.1 percent from 2000 through 2004.

“The criminals are getting bolder,” said Christopher Smitherman, the council member who called for the special session and president of the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP. “They are shooting at people, not caring who else they might hit, in the middle of the day on residential streets.”

Smitherman is one of five black members of the nine-person council, the first in Cincinnati history to have a majority of African-Americans.

Cincinnati Police has its first black chief, James Craig. He ordered additional foot and bicycle patrols in Avondale on April 2 and followed two days later by holding a community meeting in an Avondale Baptist church.

Cincinnati has a black mayor and city manager. The 2010 Census shows that Cincinnati became a minority-minority city. The white population had dropped to 48.1 percent, from 53 percent in 2000.

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Source: Cincinnatti Enquirer | Mark Curnutte, mcurnutte@enquirer.com

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