St. Louis Murder Rates in Maps – Visualizing Despair

the murder maps each
year just bleed the same dark stain;
drops like question marks
While reading the paper online, I came across these horrific interactive maps from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Each image below is linked to its source page and clicking on any drop on the original tells you, in police blotter fashion, the name and circumstances of the person murdered. There are so many drops.

In regards to the last line of my haiku/senryu above, if you take away the metro east and focus just on St. Louis city and county, the pattern the drops makes is like a giant question mark with a big thick blob at the top in North St. Louis with a curve through downtown which then curves back down into some of the neighborhoods of South St. Louis. Forest Park and the neighborhoods to the west provide, dare I say it, “white space” to this dark stain*, with a drop here and there, drops which, I might add, when they occur seem to be reported in the news media with a greater degree of angst and attention.

If you live in St. Louis and care about such things, either for self-protective or empathetic reasons or both, this pattern is not a surprise to you – you have the areas mapped out in your head – but the sheer repetitiveness of the pattern shown here year after year shocked me today. And even early in 2011, the pattern is asserting itself again already.

My prayer is for all of us St. Louisans to keep our eyes open to this and to try to understand the reasons why it is so and to work against it, and "Help us, Lord Jesus."

*Please realize that I am NOT saying that African Americans are intrinsically more prone to being murderers; there are black neighborhoods on this map with higher socio-economic-status indicators in both St. Louis city and county with murder rates that are like those county and city areas with majority white populations. There is no question that the most murders are in low SES, African American neighborhoods, but I am saying nothing in this post about that beyond noting its very great tragedy.