Report: Nebraska No. 1 in black homicide rate
Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray couldn’t talk Thursday about black homicide rates in Nebraska.
He was at a funeral for his grand-niece, killed at breakfast in her Omaha home last week by a stray bullet.
Payton Benson’s funeral started 90 minutes after a national nonprofit released a report titled “Black Homicide Victimization in the United States.”
Proportionally, more black people died at someone else’s hand in Nebraska than anywhere else in the country in 2011, when taking the total black population into account, according to the 11-page report released Thursday by the Violence Policy Center.
Thirty of the state’s 87,124 blacks were slain in 2011, or 34.3 per 100,000, the report says. That rate puts Nebraska slightly ahead of Missouri’s 33.38 and Michigan’s 31.54.
Well then, hooray for Nebraska! Which is something that people in the formerly Big 12 rival state of Missouri wouldn’t say very often.
Two-thirds of the state’s black people live in Omaha, while an eighth live in Lincoln, according to 2012 U.S. Census data.
The rate of black homicides in Nebraska was nearly twice the national average, according to the report based on FBI and U.S. Census data.
Hawaii, Montana and New Hampshire tied for last, because no one killed any black people in those states in 2011.
Blacks made up 13 percent of the country’s population in 2011, but they accounted for half of all homicide victims.
“Blacks in America are disproportionately affected by homicides,” said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center and the report’s co-author.
The vast majority of Nebraska’s 30 black homicide victims — 90 percent of the state’s total — are like Payton Benson: They died in Omaha. Two others were killed in Lincoln that year, one in Bellevue.
Ninety percent were men.
Sugarmann told people who see the report, including lawmakers, to be informed by the numbers, but not to get mired in them.
“This is not an abstract concept,” he said. “This is real people’s lives.”
He’s right, the ooks are real.
There is no mention here of who is committing these homicides.