WASHINGTON – Nearly half the people murdered in the United States each year are black, part of a persistent pattern in which African Americans are disproportionately victimized by violent crime, according to a Justice Department study released Thursday.
The study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics also found that from 2001 to 2005 more than nine out of 10 black murder victims were killed by other blacks, and three out of four were slain with a gun. Blacks, who comprise 13 percent of the population, were victims in 15 percent of nonfatal violent crimes.
The new findings underscore the enduring problem of crime that plagues many African American communities, even during a period when the incidence of violent crime dropped or held steady.
Some experts said the study also illustrates that encounters with criminals are often more likely to turn deadly for black victims than for victims of other races, in part because black victims are more likely to be confronted with firearms.
“Black victimization is a real problem, and it’s often black on black,” said David Harris, a law professor at the University of Toledo who studies crime trends. “That aspect has to be brought into any attempt to address the crime problem, and the community itself must be called into the process.”