Active shooter at large. Lockdown. Shelter in place. This is the white noise of violence and death counts, the hum of day-to-day life in America. But when it comes to small-scale neighborhood violence most of us aren’t concerned; if it’s not in our backyard, then it doesn’t exist. It’s easy for grass roots violence to get swallowed up in the hysteria of mass shootings and global conflicts because that’s how normalized violence is in America. We’re only tuned into the big headlines –a shooting at a black church, a Planned Parenthood facility, elementary school, movie theater, 14 dead and 21 wounded in San Bernardino.
There have been 353 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015. According to CNN, while the level of crime has remained below the peak reached in the 1990s, the U.S. outpaces the industrialized world in gun-related deaths. At the same time, since Jan. 1, there have been over 465 homicides in Chicago. The city’s neighborhoods are pockmarked with bullets, and people are fighting their own war on terror. And the same holds true in the neighborhoods of Baltimore, St. Louis, and Detroit, where violent crime spiked in 2015. Here are 10 of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America.
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10 Atlanta, Georgia: McDaniel Street/Mary Street
Since 2000, Atlanta has been one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. There are several affluent communities in the greater Atlanta area; Peachtree City boasts real estate ranging from $450,000 to over $1 million, not to mention a 2.5 percent unemployment rate (Georgia’s average is 4.1 percent). Nevertheless, with growth and an influx of people come unpleasant side effects. Atlanta is commonly referred to as “The Trap” for its busting drug trade, and McDaniel Street and Mary Street have a particularly violent reputation. The area is a popular hangout for Atlanta’s Pittsburgh Jack City Gang, or Jack City 1029 –Pittsburgh refers to the neighborhood where McDaniel Street is located. In 2012, the gang made national headlines when it posted a clip of a man being brutally assaulted because he wasn’t welcome in the neighborhood.
9 Wilmington, Delaware: West Center City
Nicknamed “Murder Town USA” by Newsweek, Wilmington ranks third in violence among 450 cities its size. According to the FBI, the city of 71,000 has averaged 118 shooting victims a year for the past decade. As of December 2015, there have been 141 shootings. West Center City, which stretches from Adams to Tatnall streets, is the most dangerous neighborhood in Wilmington. Leaders of Delaware’s General Assembly recently gave approval to an additional $2 million for crime fighting efforts; however, with 40 percent of West Center City’s residents living below the poverty line, police have no control over socioeconomics.
8 Beattyville, Kentucky
Gun violence isn’t what makes Beattyville, Kentucky dangerous. The small, rural town on the forks of the Kentucky River is blighted by poverty and addiction. Described by the Guardian as America’s poorest white town (98 percent of Beattyville’s 1,700 residents are white), 219 households in the Appalachian region make less than $10,000 a year. Moreover, the town’s poverty rate is 44 percent over the national average, and 57 percent of its residents claim food stamps. Beattyville’s deeply entrenched poverty has led to a raging drug epidemic. According to residents, the place is being left behind, abandoned by the once booming coal business.
7 Camden, New Jersey: Whitman Park
As places like New York and Los Angeles reduced their murder rates, Camden, New Jersey hasn’t changed. The city has a violent past, and its future looks no different. Unlike pockets of New York, gentrification hasn't arrived in Camden; hustlers crowd the street corners, talking about Camden’s neighborhoods in commercial terms: Dope City in the north, Crack City in the south. A lack of jobs, an overtaxed court system, and failing schools have created a dangerous hotbed of crime and violence. As Joshua M. Ottenberg, the former Camden County prosecutor, put it, "in Camden, the drug economy is the economy.”
6 Memphis, Tennessee: E. Mclemore Ave/Latham St.
In 2012, Travel + Leisure ranked Memphis as one of America’s top ten dirtiest cities. Meanwhile, in 2013, Forbes listed Memphis as one of the top 15 places in the U.S. with an “emerging downtown.” In other words, the city in the southwestern corner of Tennessee is a conundrum. One thing that can’t be argued, however, is that murder is up by more than 14 percent in Memphis, and violent crime as a whole is up 4.5 percent. Burglary and property crime, on the other hand, have gone down. Clearly Memphis hasn’t "emerged" yet; a recent analysis by the finance website WalletHub found that Memphis is one of five cities in America where people are worst off.
5 Houston, Texas: Scott Street/Wilmington Street
Overall, Houston has a low crime rate, especially for a city its size. Still, according to violent crime statistics by the FBI, the Scott St./Wilmington St. section of Sunnyside is a particularly violent and crime-ridden part of the city. Chances of becoming a victim are one in 11. The Scott St. and Sauer St. sections of Houston are two of the lowest income neighborhoods in America, with the Scott St./Wilmington St. tract holding the unfortunate title of having more single mother households than 99.8 percent of U.S. neighborhoods. According to City Councilwoman Wanda Adams, who represents both neighborhoods, community leaders are working every day to make improvements in the area.
4 Baltimore, Maryland: E. Oliver Street/ N. Broadway
In April 2015, Baltimore looked like a warzone, the urban chaos not unlike the streets of Fallujah. In the wake of the mysterious death of Freddie Gray after he’d been taken into police custody, Baltimore’s citizens lit the streets ablaze. Cars were overturned, and stores looted. “We have to come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America,” said Hilary Clinton. Violence and crime skyrocketed in Baltimore in 2015, and while the anti-cop sentiment following the death of Freddy Gray is partly responsible, it is only part of the problem. With 43 homicides, May was Baltimore’s most violent month in 40 years.
3 St. Louis, Missouri: College Hill
When Johnel Langerston, the president of Urban Born, Googled the worst place to live in America, St. Louis came up on his computer screen. Shootings and homicides are regular occurrences in St. Louis, but College Hill, a neighborhood on the city’s impoverished north side, is particularly bad, a ring of hell so crime infested that it prompted an influx of 80 extra police officers in February 2015. Houses are without windows. Stores are boarded up. Poverty and despair are on every corner. “We’re surrounded by murders,” said Langerston. “We hear gunshots going off all the time.”
2 Detroit, Michigan: Livernois Avenue/ West Chicago Street
In 2013, NeighborhoodScout analyzed crime statistics and real estate data from more than 72,000 neighborhoods in America. According to Andrew Schiller, PhD, founder and chief scientist of NieghbohoodScout, the intersection of Livernois Ave and West Chicago Street was the most plagued by violent crime. Your chances of becoming a victim of assault, murder, armed robbery, or aggravated assault are 1 in 7. In 2013, Detroit had three neighborhoods in NeighborhoodScout’s "Top 25 Cities Most Plagued by Violent Crime List": Mack Ave/Helen St. ranked No. 2, and Gratoit Ave and Rosemary St. was No. 3. While one neighborhood can spawn so much violent crime it ruins the reputation of an entire city –one zip code in Indianapolis accounts for 40 percent of the city’s murders –that’s not the case in Detroit.
1 Chicago, Illinois: Auburn Gresham
At the beginning of Spike Lee’s new film, Chi-Raq, a gun battle erupts in a hip-hop club in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood of Chicago, but Chicagoland has so many hoods and mean streets that a gun battle can erupt anywhere –Washington Park, Englewood, North Lawndale. Lee’s film is a wake-up call about gang violence in Chicago, a place where epic battles between street battalions is commonplace. On November 2, gang member Corey Morgan gunned down Tyshawn Lee after luring him into an alley; the hit was carried out to get back at Tyshawn’s father, another reputed gang member. Violence is soaring in Chicago. There have been 465 homicides since January 1, 2015, and chances are that number will rise by the end of the day.
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