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Black men as victims of crime: "Don't say the wrong thing"

September 28, 2007 | 12:19 pm

Of all Americans, black men have the most to fear from violent crime. Even Latino men, who suffer high homicide rates, are much less likely than black men to be murdered. According to the just-released national FBI crime report for 2006, 42% of homicide victims last year were male blacks. Below, one in HR's occasional series on black men as crime victims. The young man featured is 18--the number one age for homicide victims in L.A. County through August, 2007.

Seymore_terry_2 Name: Terry Seymore

Age: 18

Occupation: High-school student, Fremont High (bound for Morehouse College next year)

Residence: LAPD 77th St. Division--west of the 110 Freeway

Chances that he will murdered in a given year*: 15.2 in 10,000 (based on his age, race and gender)

Chance that a Latino man his age will be: 4.9 in 10,000

Chance that a white man his age will be: 1.4 in 10,000

Q. Do you have to be careful?

A. Basically you have to watch out wherever you go.... Don't say the wrong thing to the wrong person. I watch my back all the time.

Q. Has anyone close to you been the victim of a crime?

A. I lost my homeboy Jesse in middle school. He was about 13. He died on his front porch--in his mother's arms... My cousin got shot too, but he didn't die. He was 22. The bullet went through his shoulder and pierced his kidney...I also knew another guy from middle school who got killed. He got shot up in a car for no reason. But I didn't know him well. And I saw someone get shot right here, on this block. They killed him. I saw the gun come out, and 'bang!' They did it right in front of his kids.

Q. Have you ever been the victim of a crime?

A. No. I've been banged on a couple times, but I just tell them, 'I don't bang."

Q. Tell me about one time.

A. I was 11 years old. I was walking down the street, and I was wearing blue Chuck Taylors, and this is a Blood neighborhood. These two guys stopped me. They were about 18. They asked me where I was from. I said, "I don't bang. I'm 11 years old!"

Q. Where you ever pressured to join a gang?

A. Heck no! I'm too scared to do it! I mean, I'm not a wuss or anything. But that will just get you in jail or dead. And I'm scared of that.... And my mother, she always put pressure on me. If I lie to her, she gets on me.

Q. Are you ever afraid?

A. I'm more afraid of police brutality. I had a gun held to my head by a cop.

Q. What happened?

A. I was about 13 years old. I was going to the store to get minutes for my phone, and I was running. I thought I heard shouting. Then I heard someone yell, "stop!" real loud and I saw a car door open in front of me. This cop with a gun got out. I guess a house just got robbed by here, and I matched the description of the suspect.

They ordered me down. I was lying on the sidewalk on my back. I didn't know I was supposed to lie on my stomach--I didn't know how to do it! The gun was right up to my head. I was scared. I saw my life flash before my eyes. My mom came out on the street. She was really angry. I think she called the NAACP. They let me up. I started to cry a little. They didn't apologize. They didn't say nothing...Basically, after that, I was like, 'Forget the cops. They can't do nothing for me.'

Q. Does your mother worry?

A. She makes me let her know whenever I'm going outside. She wants me to be safe and alive. She tells me to pray before I go somewhere. And I always do.

See also: "They asked me where I was from, as usual" and "I had a bad feeling"

* The homicide risk calculations above are based on homicide figures from the Los Angeles County Health Department in the year 2004. The figure for Seymore's risk is derived from homicide death rates for black males ages 15 to 19.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Comments (12)

Ok, but black males are also the most likely of any race, per capita, to commit homicide. Check the Department of Justice and FBI statistics. Also, 90% of interracial crime is black on white. Hispanics are included as white in Justice Department statistics.

Will you let this post through?

Thank you Jose for printing the truth,90 per-cent inter racial crime is black on white,huh errr...where is Al sharpton and Jesse Jackson who are nothing but con artist's ya they must be somewhere trying to pump up another whitey bash,just blame the whitey and all are problems will go away.Why doesn't the LA Times publish any black on white crime,you see that is why liberalism is a mental disorder and beats the black man down and promotes self-loathing what a sham.will you print this politically incorrect posting.

Now, this is sad! I know what he is talking about! I am from Trenton, N.J. and it is very bad there too, I feel for these kids every day and I wish they could be in better places. I for one moved to Henderson, N.C. to get my oldest son away from the gangs, which was harassing him. I am not saying that there is no gang activity here but you don't see the things I seen in Jersey here. It's much safer to raise your kids... I wish all the kids in the world a better life and for them to see that there is so much more to it!

I don't think I made it through this interview without crying..... What do we have to do...... EVERYONE should have the same chances, regardless of race! I don't understand, how can people not care.....when so many people are dyeing?

The essence of homocide by Blacks-On-Blacks is a form of discrimination by the white society the condones or completely ignores the criminal behavior of black youngers from an early age. For example, police officers will often forgive what may be considered "Petty" crimes comittted by black youngers that they would not forgive a white youngers for, with fear that the black kid could or would cry discrimation. White kids are taught to obey the law and respect the laws as an essential part of their values as citizens. When these values are lost on black children, it gives rise to an acceptance of behavior that eventuallly leads to the most seriously of all crimes, Homocide. In my neighbor white kids wear helmets when riding their bikes, because their parent see this as a safety measure and the fact that it's against the law not to wear a helmet. However, it is a rare instaance when you see a black younger wearing a helmet. This type of disparity in law enforement is manifest in the black community where Black-on Black crimes are committed and with the same indifference as the concern for wearing a helmet. As a 70 year old Black American who has seen the evolution of treatment towards black people , by white people , in terms of equality in education, jobs and a general acceptance of black people in a society that historically did not, nothing has changed with respect to the issue of trying to change the values of Black Americans to respect the laws of his community and more importantly the lives of the people he most proudly proclaim as "Brother"

You know this story with the cop really upsets me! I used to be a cop, so I understand how things like that happen, the kid looked like a suspect. You will always take extreme measures to protect yourself and others, but when they realized they were wrong, they should have helped that kid off the ground and apologized! That is just rude not to do so, everybody makes mistakes, cops are human, BUT, they should have apologized and explained themselves. Those guys should have been reprimanded.

So, "Jose," what's your point? Are you saying that a 13-year-old kid deserves to be brutalized by the police because he's black? Or are you saying that since most of the black men being killed are murdered by other black men that we shouldn't care?

Don't hide behind irrelevant statistics and a fake name. Say what you really mean.

This is why NAACP are needed, and which some complacent outsiders fail to understand. If a cop pointed a gun at Your 13 year old kid, how would you feel? Would you still cheer for FOX news when they blanket pardon the police?

granted, not all cops are rough or rogue. But that just hit me.

Also, the fact that kids like him risk death by merely living and trying to get by in a prosperous nation, is ground for public outrage. The fact that there's no public hysteria going on about this is wicked.

This is why NAACP are needed, and which some complacent outsiders fail to understand. If a cop pointed a gun at Your 13 year old kid, how would you feel? Would you still cheer for FOX news when they blanket pardon the police?

granted, not all cops are rough or rogue. But that just hit me.

Also, the fact that kids like him risk death by merely living and trying to get by in a prosperous nation, is ground for public outrage. The fact that there's no public hysteria going on about this is wicked.

To "Jose" and "Truth and Justice": You are nothing but ignorant racists that trying too hard to justify their racist views..

"90 per-cent inter racial crime is black on white" where'd you learn your math "Truth & Justice"? I went to the website and your 90% figure is WRONG.

SO you're either lying or stupid which is it? Lying to prove your racist viewpoints is sad proof you have no character as a human being. Just another loser blaming black people for your own subpar loser life huh?

And "Jose" it's a shame you're too dumb to understand statistics and apparently can't read with any comprehension. Hispanics may be counted as white in the Justice Department stats but doesn't that alone call into question the validity of the stats. What do they do with Black Hispanics? did your peanut brain ever consider that? Also if you were actually intelligent you would have looked into the methodology of the DOJ and discovered that they are actually GUESSING at the race of the killer in unsolved crimes!!

Do you realize they are usually guessing that the unsolved murder of a black victim is also black? do you stop to think they are also doing this when there is a white or hispanic victim?! Proof of the inherent RACISM of law enforcement was never so clear!

But you are just two dumb "white" guys so I wouldnt expect you to be able to keep up with me! I don't argue with dumb racists but this was just to show you that you are a dumb loser that is in over his head. have a nice day!

From the DOJ website:
"the demographic characteristics of unidentified offenders are inferred on the basis of similar homicide cases -- similar in terms of the victim's demographic profile, circumstances of the homicide such as felony or argument, location of the homicide (region and urbaness), gun involvement, and year of the offense -- that had been solved. In other words, offender profiles for unsolved crimes are estimated based on the offender profiles in solved cases matched on victim age, sex, and race; circumstances of the homicide; location of the homicide; and gun involvement; as well as year. All offender-based estimates were imputed using this procedure."

What the world is waiting for, is black people to step up, and make a greater impact..

Being a black man, I have to tell you the truth, no one is going to respect us as a people as long as we dont respect one another.

We have to come to the table with each other, and hammer out solutions, that start with educating our people, not just telling them what we think, but what we know, we have to fight for the right to exist in this country.

Every experiment starts in the black community, every sales pitch, market change, industry shift, economic interruption.

We cant blame anyone other then ourselves, we help elect white politicians into office, and they forget about us, we also help elect black politicians and they forget about us. but you dont see them taking money away from West Los Angeles public Schools and pack in enough students with under achieving educators, that deny them the right to a descent education.

you dont see liquire stores, pawn shops, payday loan and rent to own shops on every major street, where are our black elected officials, where are the parks, recreation centers, after school programs.

We have a lot of work to do, and we cant count on marches that last a couple of days to bring attention to the organizers and are gone soon after.

We cant depend on the NAACP, that have taken a more minority role then a black one....

We need to establish the each one reach one mindset, you dont have to reach the whole community, just one person in it.. Start with your own home, and work your way outside.

forget the statistics, register to vote, learn how to handle money, stop support businesses and organizations that do not give back...

we need to start developing small businesses, reporting employment discrimination, if you dont stand up for youself, your elected officials will not do it either.

Stop voting on promises, these politicians are looking to maintain their own quality of life, and if selling you down the river to do it is required, then so be it.

The church should be churning out political big wheels, not clergy, but well educated and savy young thunder cats that understands the game without ever playing it.

Get in there in numbers and start making some changes.

The kid is smart, I do the same thing here in NY, I can't believe I made it to 40yo just last month, I got shot in the head in 1992, but I always had the dream from I was a child that I would get shot in my head one day, I always would wake up in a different time after getting shot & thats when I would wake up & tell my grandma about it. The year I got shot my grandma that I used to tell this about happened to be on vacation that year in NY (she raised me for 8 years in Jamaica, west indies) the night they told her I got shot, they told me she started yelling out 'they killed him' But I survived & now I am 40yo. I did not think I would make it to this age. I don't have a record to this day, yet I have been stopped by the police many many times, so just like the young man above I FEAR the police sometime more than the thugs. Other than that life is grand. I do not go outside unless I have to, & I go straight to where I have to go then return straight home. The last thing I want to say is, I got shot for dance with a girl at a party, but when I went to the police with my mother to report the crime, the first thing the Black police detective asked me was 'arent the other gang members going to come after you now since you are reporting this crime to us the police' My mother & I told him I have never been in a gang, I just wanted to add that to this story so folks can see that the negative perception of black men is also done by black men & black women, educated & uneducated, this is the reason I don't really like coming outside too much, it may be an extreme way to approach things but that approach helped me make it to 40yo.


About the Reporters
The Homicide Report is compiled using information from the Los Angeles County coroner's office, local law enforcement agencies and the Los Angeles Times. It is written by Times staff writers.

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