A Wall Street Journal analysis of crime statistics among the nation’s 50 largest cities found that reported homicides were up 24 percent so far this year, to 3,612. Shootings and gun violence also rose, even though many other violent crimes such as robbery fell.
Police, researchers, mayors and community leaders see a confluence of forces at work in the homicide spike. Institutions that keep city communities safe have been destabilized by lockdown and protests against police. Lockdowns and recession also mean tensions are running high and streets have been emptied of eyes and ears on their communities. Some attribute the rise to an increase in gang violence.
Some cities with long-running crime problems saw their numbers rise, including Philadelphia, Detroit and Memphis, Tenn. Chicago, the worst-hit, has tallied more than one of every eight homicides.
Some Texas cities that had low numbers last year seem to be particularly hard hit by this ongoing homicide wave. Homicides in San Antonio are up nearly 34 percent from a year ago (71 total homicides), Fort Worth is up 42 percent (37 total), and Austin is up 64 percent (23 total).
The article notes that certain property crimes such as robbery, burglary, and rape have dropped compared with last year, thankfully. Crimes of opportunity are dropping, in part, because of fewer opportunities.
Police in many departments said robberies, burglaries and rapes are down so far this year because more people stayed home during Covid-19 lockdowns, leaving fewer prospective victims on the streets, in bars or other public places. Burglars weren’t likely to break into homes filled with people under lockdown, they say. Homicides, on the other hand, are up because violent criminals have been emboldened by the sidelining of police, courts, schools, churches and an array of other social institutions by the reckoning with police and the pandemic, say analysts and law-enforcement officials in several cities.
Up in the Pacific Northwest, a majority of the members of Seattle’s city council have pledged to defund the police, although putting that into practice is proving harder than they thought.
Only one council member, Kshama Sawant, proposed immediate and blunt cuts that could slash close to 50 percent of the department’s remaining 2020 budget. The rest offered proposals for this year that would slice 100 full-time equivalent positions — out of 1,428 fully trained, probationary and recruited officers — from the department through layoffs and attrition, while shuffling some police functions into other city departments.
Political activists are always coming up with simple, catchy slogans and ideas that prove just about impossible to implement in practice.
We cannot have a functioning society without policing; the question is what kind of policing do we want to have.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best said at a Wednesday news conference that police discovered explosives, smoke bombs and other weapons in a van stationed at the weekend protests.
Best said over the weekend that officers used blast balls, pepper spray and 40mm sponge-tip rounds, while some in the crowd of protesters broke windows and started fires. At one point, she said, someone threw an explosive that blew an 8-inch hole through a wall of the Police Department’s East Precinct.
Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said Saturday evening that his team responded to multiple fires, including one that destroyed four trailers at a construction site.
Police later impounded the van and, after obtaining a search warrant, discovered firework pyrotechnics, smoke bombs, stun guns, bear and pepper spray, makeshift spike strips and gas masks, Best said.
Hey, remember George Floyd? Didn’t all this start with a broad, bipartisan consensus in support of equal treatment under the law? The 14th Amendment has stated since 1868 that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Didn’t we have a far-reaching agreement among whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, and everyone of every race, creed, and color that it was time for America to live up to that requirement?
Instead we’ve had Golden Girls reruns pulled from streaming services, changes to the depiction of fantasy races in Dungeons & Dragons, an end to the brands of “Eskimo pies,” “the Dixie Chicks” and “Lady Antebellum,” an all-black Mercedes Formula One car, and slogans on the backs of NBA players. We want a more just society, but instead we get headline-grabbing rebranding efforts.
Reprinted with permission from - National Review - by Jim Geraghty