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Study Finds Homicide Rate Among Pa. African-Americans Nearly Six Times National Average

By Walt Hunter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A study by the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C. reveals the Homicide Victimization rate for African Americans in Pennsylvania is nearly six times the national overall homicide rate.

The study, based on 2009 data, finds Pennsylvania is third in the nation in the rate of African American homicide victimization.

In response to the study, Max Nacheman, executive director of CeaseFirePA, commented, "Every year, nearly 1,200 Pennsylvanians lose their lives to gun violence. Almost half of those deaths are murders. We know that many of those murders are committed by someone using an illegal gun. This study by the VPC only gives greater depth to those terrible statistics, uncovering evidence to show that entire communities are being devastated by gun violence."

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says the murder rate is not a racial issue, but rather an economic one. He feels the violence is mainly driven by poverty, hopelessness and lack of educational and career opportunities.

Eyewitness News spoke with Vernetta Burger, mother of a 19-year-old son Solomon who was gunned down. Burger now works with "Mothers in Charge," a group hoping to help stop the violence by emphasizing that neighbors must speak out and work with police to ending the killing.

On Thursday, the Police Commissioner will join Mayor Michael Nutter announcing dramatic new efforts in offering rewards aimed at curbing deadly violence.

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