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Best Kept Secret: More Whites Die at the Hands of Cops than Blacks

Published: June 3, 2015
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Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison says she wants to see an officer shoot an unarmed white teenager in the back before agreeing that the “conversation about race” is over, but she almost certainly already has received her wish.

An analysis released last week shows that more white people died at the hands of law enforcement than those of any other race in the last two years, even as the Justice Department, social-justice groups and media coverage focus on black victims of police force.

“People keep saying, ‘We need to have a conversation about race,’” Ms. Morrison told the (U.K.) Telegraph in an April 19 interview.

“This is the conversation. I want to see a cop shoot a white unarmed teenager in the back,” said Ms. Morrison, who also has won the Pulitzer Prize for her work, which includes the bestsellers “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon.” “And I want to see a white man convicted for raping a black woman. Then when you ask me, ‘Is it over?’, I will say yes.”

Her comments reflect a widespread view that blacks are routinely targeted by law enforcement while whites shot by police are a rarity. Outrage has surged in recent weeks over the high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of police, notably 50-year-old Walter Scott of South Carolina, who was shot in the back and killed April 4 as he tried to run away from an officer after a traffic stop.

The officer who shot him, Michael Slager, has been charged with murder, and the Justice Department is investigating the case for civil rights violations. Department officials announced Tuesday that they have opened a federal probe into the death of Freddie Gray, 25, who died Sunday from injuries sustained while in Baltimore police custody.

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