How Dangerous Is Compton, Actually? - Chronicling Compton - January 29, 2014

Now this is a question that I will keep asking and coming back to for as long as I'm here:  how dangerous is Compton, actually?

The question won't be answered with this one blog post.

But I should let you know that now that I am a resident, a homeowner, someone with a vested interest in the community, with an Anthropological point of view, I feel almost inclined to de-construct previous constructions of Compton and respond saying, "it's not that dangerous!"

However, I don't know much about other areas that are not West Compton, and have been keeping to my own for the most part --- not really going out of my way to interview anyone, simply living daily life here, taking what comes my way, and occasionally blogging about it.

First, the Quick Bits:
Shooting the Shit About Compton

There have been multiple quality discussions about Compton on various platforms, which always tend to center around its safety:
Shooting the Shit out of Compton

People have drove by and shot...

videos about the city.

The one at night being weird and paranoid riding along Rosecrans Avenue.

What the Stats and News Reports Say

The crime statistics seem all over the place at first glance, with de-contextualized numbers thrown all over the place, and labels such as "murder capital" or "violent reputation" also haphazardly being littered over a simple Google search. 

.As late as 2005, Compton had the most murders per 100,000 people in the US.  Using reported data from the FBI, the CQ press listed Compton as the 8th city with the highest crime score (crime score including rape, robbery, assault, burglary, and motor theft) for 2010.   

In 2008, the rates of murder dropped significantly.  If you look at the old statistics, you can see that Compton averaged almost 66 murders from 1985-2000.  The numbers have been reduced significantly to 28 in 2008, and finally dipping to 17 in 2011.  The LA County Sheriff's Office sort of pats itself on the back for its increased presence.

However, as of late, maybe were not out of the woods after all.  Through the Homicide Report, The LA Times has tracked 36 murders over the past 12 months, still making Compton the 6th deadliest neighborhood in LA County.   

Some website called neighborhood scout says that any individual has a 1/81 chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime;  a stark contrast to the 1/236 in all of California.  However, becoming a victim of property crime is slightly lower in Compton (1/41) than in California (1/36), which isn't statistically significant.  To me the violent crime rate being excessively high paired with the property crime rate roughly correlating to the rate in the entire state, suggests that the violent crimes are probably not as random as you would be lead to believe. 

Seems that network analysis of violent crimes detailing relations between an assailant and victim would really help in terms of helping people understand the nature of crime.

Narratives of Crime in ComptonThe Export Report

I think the majority of the way people in general interface with the word/name "Compton" is by way of hearing some rapper mentioning it or by hearing it as a place referenced by another (usually) black celebrity.

Compton was NWA's and gangsta rap's "container", meaning, the "physical environment", the city, that gave rise to gangsta rap.  There is no other regular, widespread interface with the word/name other than the rap songs about it, bits and pieces from local news, and stories from current superstar celebrities about the difficult "growing up" and "back in the day."

Rap has undoubtedly framed the narratives of Compton.  Rappers mentioning streets and locations has untraced influence on not only the insiders of Compton, but the outsiders who hear about it and become curious about it.  Rapgenius has a map, dotting a few places referenced in rap songs.  Compton has only 4 spots ticked off (Greenleaf Avenue, Gonzales Park, Nestor Ave, and the 110/105 interchange) which seems a little low. The Game's Stepfather has even started doing Tours of South LA and Compton based on rappers.

With the Grammys having passed and the Super Bowl still on the way, Compton is getting a lot of mention in the mainstream media by way of two different entertainers, both probably still not quite understood by "mainstream" America.  

A)  Kendrick Lamar
B)  Richard Sherman

Both grounded and proud of their roots.

There is no shortage of articles (or adjectives) celebrating them (or any other celebrity) for rising from the "dangerous", "low-income", "gang-afflicted" rough neighborhoods.

It seems like it's been this way all the time.

It's as if coming from Compton (or any other type of "underserved, underprivileged, downtrodden, subaltern" is today's black celebrity's rite of passage.  It's almost like these celebrities needed it to be "tough" so that they could "learn" and "be great" --- as in the status quo of guns, murder, drugs, and poverty, was needed to make them who they were.

I'm sure that over the years, many many smart minds have wanted to somehow reform Compton.

The latest idea comes from our 31-year old newly installed mayor.

The new Brooklyn.

Says mayor Aja Brown.

Hope hope hope like that mural you see along the Blue Line when you enter the Compton stop.

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