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After holding several funerals for murder victims in his lifetime, the Reverend Earl Nance Junior is not surprised Missouri leads the nation for black on black murders.

“It’s very sad, very upsetting,”Nance said, sitting alone on a Thursday morning in the front pew of his Mount Carmel Baptist Church in north St. Louis.

“A few years back when I was working with a funeral home, it looked like I was doing one (murder victim’s funeral) a week,” Nance said, “It’s slowed down from that, but in this church since I’ve been pastor, there’s been three or four.”

Nance was reacting to a report from the Violence Policy Center, which used FBI statistics from 2008 to conclude that Missouri’s black murder rate is about 40 killings per 100,000 black residents.  That’s almost ten times higher than the murder rate of the overall U.S. population.   In Missouri, most of the killings happened in Kansas City and St. Louis.

“The root cause is the lack of parental control,” Nance said, “the lack of teaching any kind of Golden Rule.

“There are kids that feel neglected.  They don’t feel like they’re worth anything.  They don’t feel loved.  They may turn to the gangs, thinking that will gain respect.”

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