Outside editorial: Sean Taylor is archetypal American murder victim

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2007

A confidant of Washington Redskins star Sean Taylor rightly called his death Tuesday ridiculous and unnecessary. Taylor was fatally shot in his Miami home by an intruder under circumstances that are still being sorted out by police. He had a background of problems, but it's unwise to speculate or make judgments. Here was a 24-year-old, a father to a baby girl and a beloved son who was seemingly coming into his own as a man as well as a football player. We join with Redskins fans in expressing condolences to his family and team.

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In death, Taylor is set apart by celebrity and by the thousands who will mourn him. Tragically, though, in other ways, his slaying cannot be described as uncommon. Taylor - young, black, male - is the archetypal murder victim in America today.

A black man between the ages of 18 and 24 is more than eight times as likely as a white man of the same age group to be murdered. Nearly half of the nation's murder victims in 2005 were black, and the number of black men who are slain is on the rise. Isn't it a matter of public health that the most likely cause of death for an African-American male between the ages of 15 and 35 is homicide?

The police alone can't end this epidemic.

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