Today, April 10, is the 100th day of 2007. The Philadelphia homicide rate stands at 108.
There are 265 days left in the year. At the current pace of more than a murder a day, you can count on another 265 to 275 Philadelphia residents to die violently this year. Actually, that's a low estimate.
The final number will probably exceed 400 again this year. The 2007 murder rate is higher than it was in 2006, when 406 Philadelphia residents were murdered. By the 100th day of 2006, a total of 94 people were murdered in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia's homicide rate of about 22 per 100,000 residents is four times the national average. Don't look for any brotherly love in this city.
The staggering body count in Philadelphia, especially among young black men, recently drew the attention of The Christian Science Monitor, which did an analysis of the city's deadly toll.
This from an article by CSM staff writer Alexandra Marks:
"Nationally, the murder rate for African-Americans is more than three times the average: 19 black murder victims per 100,000 people versus five for the general population.
In Pennsylvania, the disparity for black homicide is even more pronounced: 30 per 100,000, or six times the national average, according to a study released by the Violence Policy Center (VPC), a gun-control research group in Washington.
Those numbers are "disproportionate, disturbing, and undeniable," says the VPC report, which analyzed crime data from 2004 in its study. Moreover, almost 80 percent of black murder victims in the U.S. were shot and killed with guns, the study found.
Philadelphia follows the pattern. The vast majority of black murders in the city – 3 in 4 – are from gunfire, according to police."
City officials, from Mayor John Street to the overpaid members of City Council to shell-shocked Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, appear to have given up.
"We could have a cop on every single corner, it wouldn't matter," Johnson was quoted in a newspaper article.
Mayor Street threw in the towel about two years ago, less than half-way into his second term.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a former two-term mayor of Philadelphia, has also shown a callous disregard for the loss of life in the state's largest city.
Except for some perfunctory calls for gun control last year when he was seeking re-election, Rendell has distanced himself from the bloodshed in Philadelphia. Many of the social ills that plague Philadelphia today have their origins in the years when Rendell was mayor of Philadelphia.
It appears the only way to reduce the gun violence and murders in Philadelphia is to wait for a new mayor to be elected in November and a new police chief to be hired once the Street bunch is evicted from City Hall.
In the meantime, we'll just keep counting the bodies.