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Opinion >  Letters

Truth about black deaths

This is written in response to the Aug. 18 S-R presented an article “Police violence a leading cause of death for black men in U.S.”

This seemed implausible, even absurd, so I researched. CDC’s “Deaths: Leading Causes for 2017” reports, for American non-Hispanic black males of all ages, assault (homicide) as the fourth most common cause of death, representing 5% of all deaths (8,643 deaths in 2017). 52% of deaths were due to heart disease, cancer and accidents.

Tragically, homicide is the No. 2 cause of death for black male children ages 1-14 years. Even among babies and toddlers 1-4 years old, homicide is the No. 2 cause of death. Homicide rises to No. 1 for ages 15-34.

What percentage of these murders are by police? The Washington Post reports 986 people killed by police in 2017. Even if every person killed by police was a black male, that would only total 11% of the murders. By no reasonable use of our language would that represent a “leading cause of death.”

So who is killing black males? PolitiFact found 93% of murder victims were killed by someone who shares their race. It seems reasonable to speculate that most black murder (including killing of over 1,000 black male children per year) is committed by young black males, since youth and male gender strongly correlate with committing crime.

The article states “about one in 1,000 black men and boys in America can expect to die at the hands of police,” sharply contrasting with the CDC data indicating 42 deaths per 100,000 due to all homicide (not just by police).

Much of what is precious in America is based on the rule of law. I do not believe this headline is an innocent inaccuracy or harmless. Articles like this further weaken public faith in the rule of law, allowing the emergence of ever more brutality between civilians.

Daniel Rial



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