Violence Policy Center analysis: Wisconsin ranks #2 in the nation for ‘black homicide victimization’

MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin’s black homicide victimization rate is nearly twice the national average and guns were overwhelmingly the most common weapons used.

This, according to Black Homicide Victimization in the Great Lakes States, a new study from the Violence Policy Center -- which analyzes black homicide victimization in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Findings from the study for Wisconsin are detailed below:

  • 2015 homicides in Wisconsin: 140 victims were African-American
  • Homicide rate among black victims in Wisconsin: 36.77 per 100,000
  • Age: 11 homicide victims (8 percent) were less than 18 years old and 1 victim (1 percent) was 65 years of age or older. The average age was 29 years old.
  • Gender:  Out of 140 homicide victims, 121 were male and 19 were female
  • Most common weapons:  For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 85 percent of victims (117 out of 137) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 75 percent (88 victims) were killed with handguns. There were 29 victims killed with firearms, type not stated. There were 12 victims killed with knives or other cutting instruments, 5 victims killed by bodily force, and 1 victim killed by a blunt object.
  • Victim/Offender Relationship:  For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 56 percent of victims (40 out of 71) were killed by someone they knew. Thirty-one victims were killed by strangers.
  • Circumstance:  For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 82 percent (58 out of 71) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 66 percent (38 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.

Black Homicide Victimization in Wisconsin, 2011 - 2015: 

Year Number of Black Homicide Victims Black Homicide Victimization Rate National Rank Percent of Black Victims Killed with Guns
2015 140 36.77 2nd 85%
2014 91 24.04 8th 87%
2013 93 24.74 7th 80%
2012 91 24.38 8th 84%
2011 86 23.22 8th 70%

Deshaun Winbush

Deshaun Winbush was killed by gunfire outside Elvin's Ice House in 2003 at the age of 20.

Marna Winbush

"He was a sweet child," said Marna Winbush, president of Mothers Against Gun Violence.

Marna Winbush spoke in court during hearing's for her son's killer.

"It's  been rough. It's been hard times," said Marna Winbush.

In Milwaukee, in the first four months of 2018, 30 people died as a result of homicide, and 22 of those victims were African-American. In 2017, 119 people died as a result of homicide in Milwaukee, and 99 of the victims were African-American.

Ashanti Hamilton

"I think that being able to talk about this with a commitment to changing it, is an important space for us to be in," said Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton.

"I didn't ask to be black, and I didn't ask to be a gun violence survivor, but I'm both," said Khary Penebaker.

Penebaker lost his mother to self-inflicted gunfire in 1979, and his friend Ricky was killed in a fight over $80.

"That number doesn't bleed like my mom did. That number doesn't have a face like my mom does, I do, or Ricky did," said Penebaker.

Khary Penebaker

Khary Penebaker

Khary Penebaker

One of his solutions is taking part in panels like one in March on behalf of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort.

According to a news release from the Violence Policy Center, this analysis is a regional companion report to the VPC’s annual national study Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2015 Homicide Data, which ranks the 50 states according to their black homicide victimization rates.

Both studies are based on unpublished information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Supplementary Homicide Report -- and detail homicide data for 2015, the most recent year for which comprehensive national data is available.

To see the study appendix, which lists for every state the number of black homicide victims, its black homicide victimization rate and the state’s rank by rate, please CLICK HERE.

According to the Violence Policy Center, nationally in 2015, there were 7,014 black homicide victims in the United States. That year, the black homicide victimization rate in the United States was 18.68 per 100,000.

In comparison, the overall national homicide victimization rate was 4.62 per 100,000. For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 86 percent of black victims (5,756 out of 6,716) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 71 percent (4,062 victims) were killed with handguns.

The rate of black homicide victimization is calculated by dividing the number of black homicide victims by the black population, and multiplying the result by 100,000. This is the standard and accepted method of comparing fatal levels of gun violence, according to the Violence Policy Center.