Missouri highest for African American killings compared to population

MISSOURI (KFVS) - Missouri is number one, but it's on a list that no state wants to be on.

According to The National Violence Policy Center, Missouri has the highest rate of African Americans killed, compared to the total African American population in the state.

That means more African American Missourians are killed per capita, than any other state in the U.S. They've held the top spot on the violent list for three years in a row.

One Heartland pastor said this is a ranking we should all work to bring down.

"It kind of blows me away, but I see it becoming a reality here in this city," said Byron Bonner, True Vines Pastor in Cape Girardeau.

With the Heartland so close to one of the most dangerous cities in the country, St. Louis, Bonner said he sees how Missouri could get the high ranking.

"St. Louis is only 150 miles from here, so sometimes people will do a crime in St. Louis and come here to hide out," said Bonner.

According to 2010 census data, there are about 750,000 African American Missourians. The Violence Policy Center said 255 of them were killed in 2010.

"One of the reasons the crime rate is up, is because the job situation is down," said Bonner.

Bonner has a couple ideas on how to end the high violent rating.

First, help people find jobs.

"I've heard people, guys that went and had and got hired on jobs before, and when you get hired on jobs and they let them work 2 or 3 days and they'll say well we found something on your record, and that's their past, and sometimes your past can stop you from having a present, and if you don't have a present, then you'll never have a future," said Bonner.

He plans to bring a program to Cape Girardeau that would help ex-prisoners find a job.

Another idea, is something everyone can do.

"Lots of times when people fell that they're not equal, or they get cursed out, or they get mistreated, or they get used, but you can't use that as a retaliation, you have to have the perfect ingredient, it's love," said Bonner.

Bonner feels as though violence in Missouri's African American community could stem from a mindset that has been passed down through generations.

"Not being able to feel as though they, as we, are equal, being accepted, but not equal, being free, but not equal," said Bonner.

It's an attitude, a situation, and a violent rating he said we can all work to bring down.

"Not just the love, I love you, you love me, but real love is when you love somebody that you know that hates you," said Bonner. "There's always a reason behind someone's actions, and so if they come to you and they're cursing or they're wanting to fight, one of the things, two things that you can't argue about yourself, and if you show them love, you'll throw them totally off."

You can read the study from the Violence Policy Center here.

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