Monday, August 6, 2012
Camden, New Jersey is over 90% black and Hispanic and is also the most dangerous town in the United States
Camden, New Jersey, has long been one of the most dangerous places in America, but recent police cuts combined with the highest unemployment rate in New Jersey have made the city even deadlier. So far in 2012 there have been 39 murders in the city of 77,000 - on pace to break the all-time record set in 1995. In 2011, the murder rate was ten times than that of New York City and 30% higher than New Orleans, Louisiana, the most dangerous large city in the United States. More than half of all children in Camden live below the poverty line. The city finds itself in the midst of a drug war as young black and Hispanic men battle for territory across the city. Large gang networks are competing with local drug dealers and the results are always violent. In 2011, there were 50 murders in Camden, eight short of the record of 58 homicides in 1995. Most of the murder victims in 2012 were male, with the youngest a 16-year-old boy and the eldest a 42-year-old woman. The murder rate has been spurred on by massive cuts to a police force that had already been dogged by corruption and too few resources. Thanks to massive state budget cuts to poor cities with large black and/or Hispanic populations like Camden, Newark and Trenton, the Camden Police Department was forced to fire 168 officers in 2011 - more than one third of its police force. In the last decade, crack houses have sprung up amid the boarded-up factories and burned out houses. People live in fear of being robbed or shot as addicts roam the streets looking to fund their habit. Most of the killings were of black and Hispanic gang members involved in drugs although there were innocent victims including a 39-year-old father of six who attempted to break up a fight. In the 39 murder cases, charges had been filed in 17, according to police. There were 103 shootings in total from January to July 2012. Camden has long been the poorest city in New Jersey, but the recession has made things worse - and the situation is not improving. The unemployment rate was less than 9% in 2007. In May 2012, it stood at 18%, leaving thousands of young men out of work.