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HALF OF U.S. MURDER VICTIMS ARE BLACK

African-Americans are victimized disproportionately.

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.

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, according to criminologists and other experts.

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 race, in part because black victims are more likely to be confronted with firearms.

Blacks, who make up 13 percent of the population, were victims in 15 percent of nonfatal violent crimes.

"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."

The Justice study is primarily drawn from two sets of data: FBI homicide reports and the National Crime Victimization Survey, which attempts to measure the prevalence of crime through scientific polling.

The Justice Department has not done a study focused on black victimization in more than a decade, but outside researchers have reached similar conclusions, officials said.

In 2005, the study found, blacks were victims of an estimated 8,000 homicides and 805,000 other violent crimes, including rape and aggravated assault, according to the new study.

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