Violence against Black women in LA remains high, even as serious crime drops

Libor Jany, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Women

LOS ANGELES — Even as the rate of serious crime in Los Angeles trends downward, Black women and girls remain at higher risk of victimization than any other demographic, according to a report by the city's civil rights department.

At the same time, the report said, their deaths and disappearances receive far less attention from law enforcement and the news media than other races.

The findings reflect the additional burdens placed on Black women, who are forced to overcome "financial instability, income inequality, housing insecurity, and a myriad of other potential social safety risks," even as they navigate the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on communities of color, according to the report.

"Black women experience a unique position of precarity as a result of decades of discrimination, grounded both in racism and sexism," the report said.

Councilmembers Curren Price and Marqueece Harris-Dawson commissioned the study last year after the killing of Tioni Theus, a 16-year-old Black girl who was fatally shot and left alongside a South Los Angeles freeway.

Citing Los Angeles Police Department statistics, the report found that while Black women make up about 4.3% of the city's population, they often account for 25% to 33% of its victims of violence.


Over the period from January 2011 through August 2022, 481 women were killed in L.A. Nearly a third, or 158, of those victims were Black, and the deaths were concentrated in poorer neighborhoods, according to the report. Many were killed in acts of intimate partner violence. The number of Latina women murdered jumped by more than 38% in that span, but Black women were "statistically the most overrepresented" when compared to their share of the population, the report said.

Black women were the victims in about a third of the 62,264 aggravated assaults with female victims reported to the LAPD during the period. They were nearly two times more likely to be seriously injured in an assault than women of other races.

"Basically, when things go wrong, women of color, particularly Black women, get the worst of it," said Capri Maddox, executive director of the city's civil rights department, whose full name is the civil + human rights and equity department. "This is just another example of how we are 'othered.' I mean, we deal with biases in the workplace, biases in medicine and even biases in how to protect our personal safety."

Racial disparities in violent crime rates are nothing new in L.A. Statistics about disproportionate bloodshed in Black and Latino neighborhoods have historically been wielded by civic and police leaders to push more aggressive policing there.


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