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Missouri drops to second in per capita ranking of black homicide victims

Updated: 2014-01-24T03:53:02Z

By CHRISTINE VENDEL

The Kansas City Star

For the first time in four years, Missouri does not lead the nation in the rate of black homicide victims, according to a national study.

Missouri dropped to second place behind Nebraska in the latest rankings, which were released Thursday by the Violence Policy Center in Washington. The center used 2011 data, the most recent comprehensive data available.

The data showed Missouri’s black homicide rate at 33.38 per 100,000 black residents, the lowest in Missouri since 2005. The national black homicide rate in 2011 was 17.51 per 100,000. The national rate for all homicide victims was 4.44 per 100,000. For white people, the national rate was 2.64 per 100,000 white residents.

Missouri had led the nation in four of the previous six years of the study.

The center has analyzed the data for eight years to bring attention to the “black homicide crisis,” said Josh Sugarmann, who co-authored the study.

Nebraska topped the latest list even though the state recorded just 30 black victims. But those killings represented 34.43 homicides per 100,000 black residents, which is nearly two times the national black victimization rate and more than seven times the overall rate.

Most of Nebraska’s black homicides, 27, were reported in or near Omaha.

Kansas ranked seventh in this year’s study with 24.97 black homicides per 100,000 black residents.

Homicides of black victims often get attention in big cities or on the coasts, but Sugarmann said the center’s annual study “shines a light” on states where the problem may not get the attention it deserves.

“Oftentimes, people, policymakers outside the community are not aware of it,” he said.

Pennsylvania has topped the list three times since the center began conducting the rankings. Missouri has ranked in the top five every year but one.

To reach Christine Vendel, call 816-234-4438 or send email to cvendel@kcstar.com.

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