From Time magazine 64 years ago:
National Affairs: THE NEGRO CRIME RATE: A FAILURE IN INTEGRATION
Monday, Apr. 21, 1958
THEY are afraid to say so in public, but many of the North’s big-city mayors groan in private that their biggest and most worrisome problem is the crime rate among Negroes.
In 1,551 U.S. cities, according to the FBI tally for 1956, Negroes, making up 10% of the U.S. population, accounted for about 30% of all arrests, and 60% of the arrests for crimes involving violence or threat of bodily harm—murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
OK, that’s a 13.5 to 1 ratio of blacks to all non-blacks for violent crime.
In one city after another, the figures—where they are not hidden or suppressed by politicians—reveal a shocking pattern. Items:
New York (14% Negro). Of the prisoners confined in houses of detention last year to await court disposition of their cases, 44% of the males and 65% of the females were Negroes.
For males, that’s only a 4.8 ratio.
Chicago (15% Negro). In 1956 twice as many Negroes as whites—1,366 to 679—were arrested on charges of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape and robbery.
About 10.7 to 1 ratio, assuming whites made up 80% of the population, 15% black, and 5% miscellaneous.
Detroit (25% Negro). Two out of three prisoners held in the Wayne County jail are Negroes.
6.0 to 1.
… Los Angeles (13% Negro). In 1956 Negroes accounted for 28% of all arrests, and 48% of the arrests for homicide, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny and auto theft.
6.2 ratio for serious arrests vs. nonblacks, some of whom were Mexican.
San Francisco (7% Negro). The victims in 896 of last year’s 1,564 recorded robbery cases reported that the assailants were Negroes.
17.8 to 1 ratio for robbery.
Negro leaders sometimes argue passionately that arrest statistics wildly distort the comparative incidence of crime among Negroes and whites because cops are more likely to arrest Negroes for petty crimes or on mere suspicion. …
But inequality of treatment by the police may actually tend to shrink rather than inflate the statistics of Negro crime. Says Newsman Wartman in the next breath: “When Negroes violate social morals—sex, drinking, gambling—white cops bypass this as ‘typically Negro.’” Many Negro leaders protest that the police are far from diligent enough in dealing with crimes committed against Negroes—and Negroes are the victims in the great majority of Negro crimes of violence. Since Negroes, even when they are victims or innocent bystanders, are often wary of calling the police, many offenses of disorder and assault go unreported when committed by Negroes in the depths of a ghetto.
Whether the statistics of Negro crime overstate or understate the reality, they are shrouded from public attention by what a Chicago judge last week called a “conspiracy of concealment.” In many cities, Negro leaders and organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People put pressure on politicians, city officials and newspapers to play down the subject. Fearing loss of Negro votes, few elected officials dare to resist the pressures.
Abetting the concealment campaign is the feeling shared by many whites that it is unfair, inflammatory and even un-American to talk about Negro crime. This feeling is reflected in the widespread newspaper practice of not mentioning a criminal’s race unless he is at large and the fact would help in identifying him.
In hiding the facts about Negro crime, the “conspiracy of concealment” helps blur the causes of it. Negro leaders themselves often put forward explanations that are oversimple. …
Crime rates run high in the Negro slums of Harlem and South Side Chicago, but they also run high in the Negro districts of Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the houses are comparatively decent. As many a public-housing official has learned to his dismay, better housing does not automatically bring about the improvement in character and conduct that do-gooders used to predict. Slum dwellers who move into brand-new public-housing projects often turn them into new slums as verminous and crime-ridden as the tenements they left behind.
Negro leadership could make a start toward lowering Negro crime rates by abandoning the conspiracy of concealment and urging full disclosure of the facts to be met. …
But even heroic efforts by Negro leadership could only dent the Negro crime problem, because essentially it is a white problem. And it will remain a severe problem until Northern whites, private citizens as well as civic officials, recognize that Negro crime is basically a symptom of a failure in integration, and start attacking discrimination in the North with the same fervor they show in arguing for civil rights in the South.