At least 12 major US cities have already set historical murder records in 2021, even as three weeks remain in the year.
Philadelphia, the nation’s sixth largest city, recorded 523 murders as of Dec. 7, surpassing its formal grim milestone of 500 murders, which was set in 1990, police data showed.
The City of Brotherly Love had recorded significantly more murders in 2021 than New York City’s 443, despite having approximately six times fewer residents.
“It’s terrible to every morning get up and have to go look at the numbers and then look at the news and see the stories. It’s just crazy. It’s just crazy and this needs to stop,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, reportedly said after his city broke its own infamous benchmark.
Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; St Paul, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; Tucson, Arizona; Toledo, Ohio; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Austin, Texas; Rochester, New York and Albuquerque, New Mexico also had their deadliest years on record, according to ABC News.
Five of those cities topped notorious benchmarks that were set in 2020, the article said. All of them were led by Democratic mayors, as are the vast majority of US cities.
Nationally, homicides rose by about 30% in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to FBI data. It was the largest one-year jump since the bureau began keeping records. Guns were used in more than three-quarters of the murders, statistics showed.
Although violent crime had gone up in New York City during the pandemic, the boroughs were far safer than in 1990, the city’s deadliest year, when 2,626 murders were recorded, according to the NYPD.
Experts have said the recent rise in national crime in smaller cities, suburban and rural areas, came even as the country’s biggest cities had become much safer since the crack cocaine epidemic several decades ago.
“In the ’90s, New York and Los Angeles accounted for 13.5% of all murders nationally. Last year, it was under 4%,” data consultant Jeff Asher told NPR in September. “So it’s a lot more diffuse than it was in the ’90s.”
The US city with the most homicides was Chicago, the nation’s third largest. Chicago’s 753 murders so far to date this year were still well behind it’s 1970 record of 954 killings, according to ABC.
Some criminologists have blamed the soaring murder rate on pandemic-related stress, criminals having too much free time, political and racial conflicts exacerbated by the police murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent retirement of police officers en masse.
With AP wires