Worrying Pandemic Trend: a Rise in Homicides

'Wall Street Journal' finds the trend in 36 of the largest 50 cities
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2020 9:30 AM CDT
Worrying Pandemic Trend: a Rise in Homicides
Police investigate a shooting in Chicago on Thursday.   (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

Chicago has logged 430 homicides so far this year, up 51% from this point last year, reports the Sun-Times. And while Chicago has drawn much of the attention over rising homicides, it's far from alone among big US cities. A Wall Street Journal analysis finds that 36 of the nation's 50 largest cities have seen their homicide rates increase by double-digit percentages this year. Austin (though its murder total is still less than 30, per KXAN) actually leads the way, with that city and Chicago the only two to record spikes of greater than 50%. Then come Fort Worth (Texas), San Antonio (Texas), Phoenix, Philadelphia, Houston, New York, Columbus (Ohio), and Jacksonville (Florida). In terms of the total number of homicides, Chicago's total is almost double that of No. 2, Philadelphia. After that come New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Dallas, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Columbus, and San Antonio.

"I was surprised at the consistency of the increase across all of the different cities," says Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago's Crime Lab. One big reason cited is that police departments have been "destabilized" by the twin crises of the pandemic and the George Floyd protests, per the Journal. But a whole mix of other factors appear to be at play—for instance, young adults are no longer in school, and after-school programs and community activities that might keep them occupied are shuttered as well. The story notes that shootings in general also are up across the US, though other violent crimes such as robbery are down. Meanwhile, President Trump has been pushing a "law and order" theme, particularly in the suburbs, notes the Washington Times. However, polls suggests the strategy is not working, per US News and World Report. (Read more murder rate stories.)

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