Early estimates find that in 2020, homicides in the United States increased somewhere between 25 percent and nearly 40 percent, the largest spike since 1960, when formal crime statistics began to be collected. And early estimates indicate that the increase has carried over to 2021, report New York Times.
Violent crime is a crisis on two levels. The first, and most direct, is the toll it takes on people and communities. The lost lives, the grieving families, the traumatized children, the families and businesses that flee, leaving inequality and joblessness for those who remain.
It’s also a political crisis: Violent crime can lead to more punitive, authoritarian and often racist policies, with consequences that shape communities decades later. In the 1970s and ’80s, the politics of crime drove the rise of mass incarceration and warrior policing, the political careers of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, the abandonment of inner cities. If these numbers keep rising, they could end any chance we have of building a new approach to safety, and possibly carry Donald Trump — or someone like him — back to the presidency in 2024.
There’s still time. Just this week, Philadelphia’s progressive district attorney, Larry Krasner, handily fended off a primary challenge. But the politics are changing, and fast: Democratic primary voters in New York City say crime and violence is the second most important problem facing the city, behind the coronavirus but ahead of affordable housing and racial injustice. And just a few weeks ago, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who was facing political challengers attacking her for being soft on crime, announced she would not seek re-election in the fall.
So do liberals have an answer to violent crime? And if so, what is it?
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