As the United States reels from coronavirus pandemic and its effects, homicides and violence are also on the rise.
Various reports and an analysis by crime analyst Jeff Asher finding that the homicide rate has risen 23 percent in 23 major U.S. cities through June compared to the same period in 2019. But while homicide cases have gone up, Asher’s analysis shows that overall crime is actually down 7.2 percent while violent crime and property crime have experienced falls of 2.2 percent and 8.8 percent respectively.
Violence In The Cities
This year alone, the cities of Chicago, New York, Atlanta, D.C., Philadelphia, Houston, Charlotte, North Carolina, Denver, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Kansas City, Missouri have seen a spike in shootings and homicides.
Several opinions and observation from experts point out various reasons for this trend.
The uncertainty of the pandemic, lockdowns and economic turmoil have brought anxiety and unrest among the masses.
“Right now, there are stresses everywhere. People are staying home. People are out of jobs. There’s social unrest. All of these things can push an epidemic problem to become worse, and that’s what happening with violence,” said Charlie Ransford, director of science and policy at Cure Violence, a Chicago-based nonprofit group combating gun violence. “It’s a contagious problem.”
Changes in policing activity
After George Floyd’s death, public view towards the police has changed due to loss of trust and confidence especially among disadvantaged groups and people of colour.
“When people are alienated from the police – in my business, we call this when the police are experiencing diminished legitimacy then people are less willing to call the police when they know of a crime, less willing to cooperate with the police or when they’re asked to cooperate in an investigation, and more likely, then, to take matters into their own hands when disputes arise”, according to Richard Rosenfeld, a professor emeritus of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. Rosenfeld also co-authored a report on “Pandemic, Social Unrest, and Crime In US Cities”.
The pandemic has highlighted social inequality issues in America; while may are losing jobs and facing an uncertain future, it is undeniable that the rich are seemingly unaffected.
Majority of Black and Brown communities have to endure the massive layoffs from the economic fallout of the pandemic. West Side pastor Marshall Hatch said that the violence is the “despair and depravity that goes along from people being valued less, disinvested in.”
Whatever the causes may be, these homicides and deaths are real and will continue to exacerbate unless concrete actions are taken.