Why does SC have some rural counties that are as deadly as Chicago?

Urbanization does not cause high homicide rates

One of the most prominent false narratives about Black homicides is that “Blacks mostly only kill other Blacks, so it is an intracommunity issue and not the concern of White people.” We recently debunked this false narrative with our reports about large numbers of Black-on-White homicides in North Dakota and Arkansas.

Another popular false narrative claims, “homicide rates increase with urbanization, and Black homicide rates are high because Blacks tend to live in the most densely populated areas.”

Today we will dispel the false narrative that urbanization causes high Black homicide rates. South Carolina has lots of small towns and villages that are majority Black. Many of these towns have homicide rates comparable to Chicago or even higher.

There are entire counties in South Carolina that are extremely rural, yet they still have very high Black homicide rates.

We calculated the homicide rates of South Carolina’s 46 counties using an average of three years. This is because, when you are dealing with low populations, it is easy to have a spike. A county of 15k people could have a record homicide rate one year and zero homicides the next. We listed the 46 countries below based on the Black percentage of the population. It is easy to see that race is a far more significant factor in homicide rates than population density and urbanization.

The biggest outlier on the list in McCormick, but that is only because of the uneven distribution of the homicides from year to year due to having such a low population. Between 2018 and 2020, the annual reports only list one homicide. However, the 2017 report lists three homicides. This would give McCormick a homicide rate of 10.2 per 100k from 2017-2020 vs. the 3.42 shown for 2018-2020. There is also data missing. In 2016 and 2015, the county reported zero homicides, yet at least one did occur in 2015. Two Black males murdered a 77-year-old shopkeeper in 2015.

Source: The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division publishes an annual list of homicides by county.

Notes: The 2018 annual report lists 393 homicides state-wide. This increases to 408 in the 2019 report. However, there is no updated county list. In 2019 annual report lists 441 homicides. This was updated to 452 in 2020, but there is no updated county list. Also, Edgefield is listed as having zero homicides each year. We looked at reports from many previous years, and Edgefield is always listed as zero. We can confirm that murders are occurring in this county that does not appear in the reports. For example, a White couple was murdered by a Black male in 2016.

It could be that Edgefield is submitting its homicide data too late to be included in the county homicide lists. Each year, the number of homicides for the previous year is always updated to a higher number.

According to the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, 71.1% of homicide victims were Black, while 75.8% of known offenders were Black in 2020.

Download *.pdf file of data
Download *.ods spreadsheet file

County Population Black % 2018 Murders 2019 Murders 2020 Murders Ave. per 100k
             
Pickens 132,229 7% 4 4 3 2.77
Oconee 79,203 8% 5 5 7 7.15
Horry 365,579 13% 29 15 33 7.02
Beaufort 191,748 17% 10 10 11 5.39
Lexington 300,137 17% 12 15 18 5.00
Saluda 18,821 18% 1 0 2 5.31
Greenville 533,834 19% 23 34 43 6.24
York 288,595 20% 10 9 19 4.39
Cherokee 56,052 21% 8 3 3 8.33
Lancaster 100,335 21% 3 7 3 4.32
Spartanburg 335,864 21% 24 23 10 5.66
Berkely 236,701 25% 8 18 17 6.06
Kershaw 66,130 25% 3 4 8 7.56
Laurens 67,803 25% 3 4 5 5.90
Aiken 170,775 26% 14 12 24 9.76
Charleston 413,024 26% 46 46 56 11.94
Abbeville 24,299 27% 4 4 0 10.97
Dorchester 163,327 27% 6 7 8 4.29
Georgetown 63,921 30% 7 6 8 10.95
Newberry 37,996 30% 1 6 3 8.77
Greenwood 69,241 32% 7 2 6 7.22
Union 27,016 32% 3 1 3 8.64
Chesterfield 43,268 33% 1 5 10 12.33
Edgefield 26,153 34% N/A N/A N/A N/A
Jasper 30,324 34% 4 1 9 15.39
Anderson 206,908 35% 14 18 16 7.73
Chester 32,209 37% 3 8 13 24.84
Colleton 38,462 37% 9 11 6 22.53
Calhoun 14,165 40% 1 0 7 18.83
Darlington 62,755 42% 8 13 13 18.06
McCormick 9,760 43% 1 0 0 3.42*
Barnwell 20,580 44% 3 3 11 27.53
Florence 136,504 44% 26 20 26 17.58
Clarendon 31,024 47% 3 4 7 15.04
Dillon 28,087 47% 6 6 23 41.54
Sumter 104,758 48% 7 13 20 12.73
Richland 418,307 50% 43 53 42 11.00
Marlboro 26,328 51% 4 6 5 18.99
Hampton 18,180 53% 3 3 0 11.00
Fairfield 20,690 56% 1 2 6 14.50
Marion 28,784 57% 10 3 11 27.79
Bamberg 13,189 60% 1 5 1 17.69
Orangeburg 82,962 62% 6 20 19 18.08
Lee 16,280 63% 1 1 6 16.38
Williamsburg 30,848 64% 5 10 8 24.85
Allendale 7,858 73% 2 1 3 25.45
             
  5,191,013   393 441 552
  • From 2014-2020, the homicide rate of McCormick County was 23.4 per 100k

Chicago Homicides according to Chicago Sun-Times:

2018: 20.3 per 100k
2019: 18.7 per 100k
2020: 28.2 per 100k

Ave.: 22.4 (Seven rural South Carolina counties had a higher average during the same time period)


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