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April 4, 2016

MLK’s Dream Overshadowed by Record Murders

Homicides in Memphis are historically bad.

When it comes to gang-related murder statistics, most people immediately think of Chicago. And for good reason. Based on the current trend, the city could surpass 500 homicides by year’s end. Alarming? Absolutely. But staggering? Relatively speaking, no. Since 1928, Chicago has registered more than 800 homicides 16 different times, and four years saw that number grow to over 900. By sheer numbers, the city’s got a long way to go to hit its benchmarks — though with the typical summer upswing knocking on the door, that’s certainly possible. In any case, the number of murders is climbing, and 500 unjustified deaths is horrific no matter how you put it. But about 530 miles to the south, there’s another city that’s suffering a truly staggering murder spree. From the Associated Press:

> Memphis is on pace to break its record for the number of homicides that have occurred in the city in one year. The Commercial Appeal reports through the end of March in Memphis, 60 people had been killed, giving the city a homicide rate of 9.13 victims per 100,000 people in the city during that time period. That rate is about 64 percent higher than Chicago’s rate this year. If the numbers continue at that rate for the rest of the year, the city would record about 240 homicides, which would trounce the record of 213 set in 1993.

There’s a tragic irony here. Forty-eight years ago today, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray … in Memphis. Clearly, today’s news reports are not what MLK dreamed.

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