Stay-at-home orders. A worldwide pandemic. Unemployment. Tense race relations. Protests and riots. Police departments defunded. The summer heat.
It’s no wonder cities like New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago are reporting greater homicides and shootings than have been seen in previous years. Dozens of other cities are reporting the same. According to a recent Wall Street Journal study in which 50 of the nation’s largest cities were analyzed, homicides are up 24% this year.
It’s been an intense year for the entire world, so an increase in crime rates shouldn’t come as a total surprise. But it should give us pause.
Over the weekend New York City surpassed the number of shootings in the entire year of 2019 (777 shootings as of the end of July, compared to a total of 776 shootings overall for 2019).
There have been over 1,000 shootings in Philadelphia (of which, 240 resulted in death).
And in Chicago, 2,240 people have been shot, 440 of which resulted in death.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, homicide rates have increased both for cities which are accustomed to high rates of violence and for those cities which are not.
Conservatives and liberals are blaming different causes for this increase. The right, including President Trump, have blamed movements to defund police departments and a general attitude of hatred toward police officers for contributing toward a disregard for law and order in our cities.
Conservatives propose solutions such as strengthening police departments (rather than defunding them), and cracking down on riots and violent crime.
The left, however, has pointed to poverty as a main cause for increased violence.
U.S. House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came under fire from House Republicans after declaring earlier in July that “Crime is a symptom of a diseased society that neglects its most marginalized people, and we do not solve that problem with police.”
Republicans are all upset that I’m connecting the dots between poverty and crime.
I know most of them haven’t experienced or seen these issues first hand, but I have.
This may be hard for them to admit, but poverty and crime are highly linked, both violent & nonviolent alike. https://t.co/4t34dCLZlw
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 13, 2020
Ocasio-Cortez continued: “Maybe if we…give people repeated stimulus checks so that they feel like they can stay in their homes, maybe we’ll see a mitigation of crime.”
For the left, the solution to crime is to fund community efforts such as education, social work, and housing programs.
For perspective, Forbes pointed out that in 1990, New York City had a reported 2,262 homicides. While rising crime rates should give us pause, we can still be thankful that we are still experiencing lower crime rates than in decades past.