From The Economist, a week and a half after I broke the news that murder was up 38% in urban America in 2020 over 2019:
The reasons for it are complicated and somewhat mysterious
No, they aren’t.
Jan 16th 2021
… Arne Duncan, a former federal education secretary who now works on tackling violence in his home town, says much of it is extremely local: between one-third and one-half of all shootings in Chicago happen in just 7% of its residential blocks.
Who lives on those 7% of Chicago blocks? That might give us a clue who is committing all the incremental murders.
That should make doing something easier, as officials know where to concentrate resources. Yet their efforts are failing. After some years of fewer killings
Murders in Chicago declined in recent years after leaping 57% in 2016 due to the authorities admitting on 11/23/2015 that the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald was a crime and submitting to ACLU and Obama Administration oversight. Then, murders surged again in 2020 with an all-time record 25 murders on the weekend after George Floyd died in Minneapolis. It’s almost as if the murder rate in Chicago depends upon whether the authority figures in our society are on the side of the cops or the criminals, and The Establishment ought to finally learn that cheap virtue-signaling gets a lot of poor people murdered.
, last year was “extraordinarily tough”, he says. Chicago saw over 770 murders, 50% more than in 2019, and around 3,000 people shot and wounded. Carjackings more than doubled. Eddie Bocanegra, who works with young men most at risk, says killers, many of them teenagers, have grown more ruthless. He describes a victim shot 21 times with an automatic rifle. He blames increased violence on more lethal weaponry, including magazines that hold dozens of rounds.
Who can forget the new generation of weaponry introduced on May 25, 2020?
It is not just Chicago. Rates of gun violence are rising in other cities too, after falling since the early 1990s. Thomas Abt of the Council on Criminal Justice, in Washington, says data so far for 2020 suggest “the largest single-year increase in homicides ever reported in the us.” A study by his group of 21 big cities counted murders up (year-on-year) by 42% last summer, then by 34% in the autumn. Jeff Asher, an analyst based in New Orleans, cites FBI data for cities with fewer than 10,000 residents, where murders leapt by 30%.
That’s bad. I counted murders for 2020 in 46 of the top 50 cities and 108 of top 200 cities, 108 cities that accounted for 45% of the murders nationally in 2019, and murders were up 37.9% in 2020. If murders in small towns are up 30%, then they would be up nationally by about 33%. The two previous increases are 1968 (+12.7%) and the first year of the first era of Black Lives Matter 2015 (+12.1%).
In all the FBI counted 16,425 murders, five for every 100,000 people, in 2019. Figures for 2020 will eventually show big a rise from that.
A conservative guess would be that murders are up by 4,000 dead bodies in 2020 (a little under 25%).
Violence really picked up in late spring, after the pandemic took hold, the economy slumped and, especially, after the killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, an African-American man, in late May. Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri, in St Louis, points to a simultaneous “abrupt increase” in killings across cities.
Maybe the media so confidently declaring “the killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd” rather than “the death of fentanyl abuser George Floyd in police custody” had something to do with the ensuing orgy of mayhem? Ya think?
National rather than local factors evidently drove the murder rate last year.
Harder to trace is exactly why this happened. Did protests against police violence lead to forces pulling back, which in turn led to more murders?
Mick’s agonizing reappraisal of 1960’s ideology after Altamont
Perhaps the media declaring during the Racial Reckoning that every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints had roughly the same effect on urbanites who carry illegal guns to block parties as the Rolling Stones playing “Sympathy for the Devil” had on the crowd and Hell’s Angels at Altamont?
Did temporary reductions in jail populations in the early weeks of the pandemic allow newly released men to commit crimes?
They didn’t immediately start committing vastly more mass shootings, but it turned out, evidently, not to be a good idea to combine releases of criminals with a campaign of hate against law & order. Who could have guessed?
Did school closures push up crime, as they do in the summer holidays?
Most schools these days are out by around Memorial Day anyway.
Why did property crime slump last year, whereas violence soared?
Because men were at home?
Part of the explanation may be a boom in firearm sales, especially of handguns (which are usually bought for security, not recreation). Jurgen Brauer of Small Arms Analytics, which tracks industry sales, counts 22.7m handguns and long guns sold last year, a record, and 63% more than in 2019. He notes that availability of weapons is associated with higher rates of violence. Those were legal sales, but criminals may own legal weapons, or buy or steal them.
I drove down the Gun Run past all the gun shops on Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank a few times last spring and saw long lines of Men with Gold Chains lined up to buy legal guns. I am not the world’s biggest fan of all the ex-Soviets who have moved into Los Angeles since we “won” the Cold War. But I would bet you that legal gun buyers weren’t the demographic that did most of the incremental shooting after Memorial Day.
Mr Rosenfeld sees other mechanisms in play. The police grew less effective as officers fell ill with coronavirus, were quarantined or were diverted, for example by protests.
Mostly peaceful protests!
Those still patrolling also practise social distancing. “That reduces the kind of face-to-face contact that can be effective,” he says. Police are most helpful if they prevent retaliation, stopping petty disputes escalating into shooting wars, but that requires a heavy presence on the ground.
Shootings appear to have been up slightly over 2019 during the first ten weeks of the covid impact.
Then, everything changed around May 25.
The widespread loss of trust in police after Mr Floyd’s killing “widens the space for so-called street justice”, he says.
The cops retreated to the donut shop and the media told blacks that they should be enraged. How’d that work out?
Mr Duncan points to micro-measures to push back against the gloom. His group works with rappers in Chicago, for example, to spread “rules of engagement” between gangs, telling members “You are not a man if you shoot into crowds or at children.”
But who will dare point out that telling black people since Memorial Day that they are God’s gift to the Planet Earth and that their petty rages over stupid disses deserve to be taken seriously just leads to them shooting each other? Who will dare tell blacks they should be ashamed of their behavior in 2020?