A year after the death of George Floyd, which resulted in mass protests across the country and calls to defund the police, violence is now surging in cities across the country. This has been seen most especially in Minneapolis, where the situation with George Floyd happened.
In the last year, the city of Minneapolis has lost 200 officers, nearly a third of its force. To help supplement the loss, the city’s police department is relying on officers from the Minnesota State Patrol, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and federal investigators, and it needs all the support as it can get.
Just this weekend, shootings left four people dead, including a student from the University of St. Thomas who was literally hours away from graduation. This is in addition to the three children who have died over the last three weeks.
Overall, since last year, homicides and shootings have more than doubled and car jackings have more than tripled.
Mayor Jacob Frey has given a proposal to the City Council about how to increase the number of police officers, but so far the city’s elected leaders have opposed such a plan. Instead, they want to eliminate the police department completely.
In March, the City Council voted to allow the public to decide whether they replace the Minneapolis Police Department with something that would supposedly treat all communities equally and address crime from a “comprehensive public health approach.”
“The vote was an acknowledgment of the need to fundamentally change a system that serves white people better than it serves people of color, and that disproportionately exposes some in our city to harm,” Council Member Steve Fletcher, a sponsor of the potential ballot initiative, said.
“I don’t know how to say this any more succinctly than we all must be anti-racist,” Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins said.
She also added, “That, to me, says that there is a deeper problem than the policies that are governing our police department, and that is the work that we have to really continue to try to eradicate from all of our systems.”
How this “public health approach to crime” will work is unclear, and the people of Minneapolis are suffering as criminals have felt emboldened as the police department and officers remain overwhelmed.
It’s not just Minneapolis. Across the country, American cities have seen a 33% increase in homicides since the previous year. Of the 66 largest police jurisdictions, a staggering 63 have seen increases in at least one violent crime category, including “homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, according to a report produced by the Major Cities Chiefs Association.” Baltimore City, Maryland and Raleigh, North Carolina are two the notable cities that did not see increases.
CNN argues that “it’s nearly impossible to attribute any year-to-year change in violent crime statistics to any single factor, and homicides and shootings are an intensely local phenomenon that can spike for dozens of reasons.” However, it seems remiss to dismiss the impact of defund police efforts and police officers’ concerns that they could wind up in legal trouble if a situation gets out of hand.
This violence is also impacting children, with a staggering 406 children being involved in shootings this year. Over 284 have been injured, and 122 have been killed due to gun violence. This includes a six-year-old Aiden Leos of California, who was indiscriminately shot and killed while just sitting in his car during a road rage incident.
“As a dad standing alongside other parents up here on this podium, I struggle to make sense of the reckless gun violence that continues to take the lives of our young people,” Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown said in 2020.
Unfortunately, violence in Chicago is only increasing in 2021, with the percentage of shooting already up 22%. New York has also seen violence increase by 9.1%.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the violence has been mostly “concentrated in relatively few poor neighborhoods, typically Black and Hispanic, with persistent histories of violence.”
At this point, despite the country finally opening up after a yearlong COVID-related lockdown, this growing violence seemingly has no end in sight. This is especially true as some cities move to try and remove their police departments altogether. Dismissing law and order has consequences, and unfortunately, families are going to pay the price.
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