LITTLE ROCK — Community activists watching Little Rock’s homicide rate spike to a level not seen since the city’s 1990s gang wars asked witnesses Tuesday to step forward after a home-invasion robbery ended with the death of a man who hours before had taken part in a backpack giveaway for school children.
Daniel Dewayne Lewis, 50, regarded as “The Mayor of Howard Street,” died early Sunday. A white cross was erected in Lewis’ yard Tuesday — a grim memorial held for the 39th time this year — as leaders of an anti-violence group called again for common sense.
“You’ve got to keep this on people’s minds: We’ve got to turn these people in,” the Rev. Benny Johnson said outside a church two doors’ down from Lewis’ home. “It used to be your neighbor would get on you if they saw you do something. Now people don’t even know who their neighbors are.”
Arkansas’ capital city is on pace to reach a homicide rate not seen since police recorded 68 homicides in 1993, when territorial rivalries were so great that HBO aired a documentary titled, “Gang War: Bangin’ in Little Rock.”
The city totaled 42 homicides last year, or about 21 per 100,000 residents. With 39 killings already this year, Little Rock in on pace to finish 2017 with a rate of 33 homicides per 100,000 residents — the highest since 1993, when the rate was 38 per 100,000 residents, according to data from Little Rock police.
No one can agree on why the homicide rate is climbing. Some blame increased retaliation for previous crimes or gang members returning after leaving prison. Others cite tough economic conditions in the city’s poorer sections.
“We have far too…
click here to read more.