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New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles are not experiencing a peaceful new year.
America's three largest cities have all reported worrying increases in homicides in 2021, even as other forms of violent crime appear to be decreasing. The increase follows trends from 2020, which saw a dramatic and unprecedented increase in violent crime around the time that the Black Lives Matter riots began.
The spike in homicides does not appear to be decreasing as time passes, however, as many cities continue to deal with the fallout of the collapse of confidence in the police, combined with funding cuts.
New York City has experienced five murders so far in 2021, a 150 percent increase from the same time in 2020. The increase does not appear to be approaching levels of crime seen in the Big Apple since the 1990s, where murders surpassed 2,000 per year before dropping dramatically under the tenure of Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
New York's experience has been mirrored in Chicago, which has experienced 14 murders in the first two weeks of 2021, one for every day. It is a 100 percent increase from the same time last year when seven people were murdered in America's second largest city.
Los Angeles has also seen its murders more than double since the same time last year. 24 people have been murdered in the southern Californian city since 2021 began. In addition, 68 people have been shot in the first two weeks of this year compared to just seven in the first two weeks of 2020, a near 1000 percent increase.
The dramatic increase in crime in Los Angeles comes just over a month after the city swore in its new District Attorney, George Gascon. On his first day in office, Gascon abolished cash bail in LA and promised to cease sentencing the death penalty. He also announced that the city would stop prosecuting some minor offences which he claims are associated with poverty, addiction, mental health problems, and homelessness.
Conservatives have warned that such practices would allow criminals free reign to commit crime, a prophesy which appears to be coming to fruition in California's largest city. The defund the police movement has also not helped, scaling back the size of police forces at a time when more officers, not less, are needed.
Others are skeptical of such conclusions, as crime has been rising in both urban and rural areas across the country, regardless of whether they defunded their police forces or instituted bail reform.
Some have also placed blame on the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns for the dramatic spike in crime, suggesting that people who have become unemployed may commit more crimes to support themselves and their families.
Police forces have also been stretched thin due to the pandemic as a result of police taking sick days and being unwilling to come into contact with as many people, compounding the effects of politically motivated budget cuts.
It is unlikely, however, that conclusive information on the spike in crime will come for some time, as the FBI is not expected to release 2020 crime statistics until September of this year.