Death ran wild in major American cities during 2020, according to a new federal report.
The report from the National Commission of COVID-19 and Criminal Justice titled “Pandemic, Social Unrest, and Crime in U.S. Cities” said homicide rates in 34 cities jumped 30 percent from 2019 to 2020.
“The coronavirus pandemic and protests over police violence are likely contributors, along with yet-to-be-identified additional factors,” the authors of the report wrote.
According to the report, a nation on edge amid COVID-19 fears and lockdowns was already topping 2019 in homicides when Black Lives Matter-fueled protests erupted in cities such as Minneapolis and Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Homicide rates “increased significantly in June, well after the pandemic began, coinciding with the death of George Floyd and the mass protests that followed. Overall, homicide rates increased 30% in 2020, a large and troubling increase that has no modern precedent,” the report said.
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“[T]here was a structural break in the city average in June, indicating a large, statistically significant increase in rates after adjusting for seasonality and the longer-term trend. After this break, homicide rates increased sharply through July then declined through the end of the year, though not to levels observed in the prior year.”
In breaking down the timing of America’s murder surge, the report said “[h]omicide rates were higher during every month of 2020 relative to rates from the previous year” and that from March to May, murders rose by 19.4 percent over 2019.
Then came the summer. Murders rose by 37.2 percent from June through August, and although the rate tailed off after that, murders from September through December rose by 28.2 percent.
The report cautioned that in some smaller communities, the percentage increases were large because the overall numbers were small.
However, the report noted that there was a 43 percent increase in homicides in 2020 in New York City.
In 2020, 447 homicides were recorded, making it the city’s deadliest years since 2011, according to NYPD statistics cited by New York magazine. Shootings were up 95 percent in New York City, totaling 1,480 incidents.
Madison, Wisconsin, recorded a 100 percent increase in homicides, while Milwaukee recorded an 85 percent increase.
“As noted above, a precipitous rise in homicides coincided with the emergence of mass protests after George Floyd was killed in late May by a police officer in Minneapolis. In June through August 2020, the homicide rate was 37% higher than the previous year and higher than during any other period in 2020,” the report said.
Murders rose in 29 of the 34 cities examined.
Assaults with a gun rose 8 percent, while aggravated assault rose 6 percent.
“COVID-related restrictions may have had an initial suppressive effect on homicides, but the waning of those restrictions, coupled with the strain on at-risk individuals and key institutions – aggravated further by the lack of outreach to such individuals – have all likely contributed to elevated homicide rates in 2020,” the report said.
Talking to the media about the year’s crime, New York City Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea summed it up by saying, “I can’t imagine a darker period,” according to The New York Times.