Black Men as Victims of Crime: “I had a bad feeling”

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Black men are America’s most likely crime victims. Even Latino men, who suffer high homicide rates, are considerably less likely than black men to be murdered. How unsafe are black men? Suffice to say they are safer in prison than on the streets of Los Angeles County.

This week HR begins an occasional series of interviews on the subject of black men as crime victims.

Name: Romeo Bryant

Age: 34

Means of support: None, since he was disabled by a shooting. Previously, he painted houses intermittently. He stays in Florence and Watts.

Chance that he will be murdered in a given year*: 15.9 in 10,000 (based on his age, race and gender).

Chance a Latino man his age will be: 2.1 in 10,000.

Chance a white man his age will be: 0.6 in 10,000.

Q. How many people close to you have you lost to homicide?

A. Two cousins. About 40 friends. My brother is paralyzed. He uses a wheelchair. He was hit in the head in an assault in 1986.


Q. How many times have you been shot at?

A. Twice.

Q. How many times have you been hit?

A. Once. On June 24, 2005, in Florence.

Q. Can you describe your experience?

A. I got off the bus. I had been working. I was walking. I had a bad feeling. This Mexican guy approached. He was in a black Acura. He hit me up. He said, ‘Hey, where you from?’ I said, ‘Nowhere!’ I had paint all over my clothes. I even had paint on my face....

He went around the block and came back. I was on the sidewalk. He was leaning out the driver’s side window, about 8 or 10 feet away. He unloaded his gun. After the third shot, my leg felt hot. It went numb.

I didn’t fall, but I stopped. I was looking down the barrel of a gun. The guy kept firing. It was dark--dusk-like. I could see the fire of the gun, and behind it, I could see his eyes. He was about 16 years old. He looked scared. A bullet went by my nose. There were bullets all around me. I just stood there. I felt like I had a shield. He shot 14 times. He was a bad shot. Then he said, ‘f--- n-,’ and burnt rubber, and took off.