Four Years of Homicide in Brooklyn
With 2.5 million residents, Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City’s five boroughs. An independent city until 1898, Brooklyn remains famous for its history, its thriving ethnic communities, its architecture, its diversity, and its long-standing influence on America’s artistic and creative culture. Although developers seek to sanitize and gentrify parts of Brooklyn and the city government seeks to fudge crime statistics for the same purpose, Brooklyn remains for many people infamous for its crime.
The map portrays the locations of over six hundred homicides that have taken place since 2009 - 149 in 2009, 184 in 2010, 171 in 2011, and 113 so far in the year 2012. This is an incredible decrease since the years of decades past - in 1990 the stretch of north Brooklyn from Williamsburg to East New York had seven hundred homicides alone, far more than the entire city had in 2011. Due to widespread public misconception about historical decreases in crime, where crime occurs, who commits crime, who are the victims of crime, and how crime is recorded and studied, it remains a criminologist’s duty to portray the reality of crime in a locale accurately. Each marker represents one victim; multiple homicides are designated by a number.
- Green markers indicate white victims - generally on this map, Italians, Jews, Russians, Irish, Albanians, and other European-descended persons
- Blue markers indicate African-American victims
- Orange markers indicate Latino victims - generally on this map, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Cubans, Mexicans, et al
- Red markers indicate Asian victims - generally on this map, Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani persons.
- Purple markers indicate Middle-Eastern or African immigrant victims - such as Ethiopians, Arabs, Nigerians
Most obviously, the innermost neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, Crown Heights, and East New York remain the most troubled with homicide, and nearly every victim is a young black male. Radiating outward, even neighborhoods that have experienced gentrification like Williamsburg, downtown Brooklyn, and Cobble Hill suffer murder rates far higher than comparable neighborhoods in Manhattan. Flatbush Avenue marks a clear racial divide both in population and in victimology: in the south Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay, and Gravesend there is a preponderance of both white victims and white killers, in a large part due to the influences of Italian and Russian organized crime. Despite the image of Brooklyn as wholly consumed with homicide, there are enclaves like Borough Park, Bay Ridge and Park Slope where homicide is quite unknown - all of them tending to be affluent neighborhoods with a history of being unwelcoming to outsiders of race and class. One difference between the modern day and the New York of the past is that as more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer people, the affluent can afford to segregate themselves in heavily policed communities, even when those communities exist through the displacement of original residents - they can avoid the effects of poverty and marginalization through the protection afforded them by state violence, without having to confront the harsh realities that many residents of New York face on a daily basis.