Experts Say Black Lives Matter Protests Caused the Current Surge in Homicide, Not the Pandemic

According to a study out of SJ Quinney College of Law, American cities
are witnessing significant declines in some forms of policing, which in turn is producing exponential homicide spikes.

Despite some claims that the surge in crime is due to the pandemic, crime rates are increasing only for a few specific categories—namely homicides and shootings—while property crimes and robberies mostly continue to fall. Historically there is no link between short periods of economic disruption and murder rates.

The current surge in homicide is not happening in other countries, and only present in certain parts of the United States among certain populations.

According to the study, the recent spikes in homicides have been caused by a “Minneapolis
Effect,” similar to the earlier “Ferguson Effect, directly after the protests.

In April of 2021, Travis Campbell, a Ph.D. student in economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, released his revised findings on the effects of Black Lives Matter protests from 2014 through 2019. While Campbell’s study found a slight decrease in the total amount of people killed by police in the cities that had large protests, he also found that homicide and other violent crimes increased. Campbell’s research indicates that the protests from 2014 through 2019 correlate with approximately a 10 percent increase in homicide, which equals approximately 6,000 additional homicides nationwide. His research does not include 2020, which for many cities, was the worse year for homicides since 1998, and the year we saw the most Black Lives Matter protests in the country.

Campbell said his data suggested that BLM protests result in ‘less police effort and less proactive policing,’ which explains both the decrease in police shootings and the overall surge in murders.  

According to most economists and criminologists, the reason for the surge in homicides is indeed due to police ‘backing down’ from enforcement in the face of public backlash. Police across the nation are either retiring at record rates or transferring out of Black majority cities due to stigma caused by the protests and riots. The cost of policing for them outweighs the benefits, especially with the push for the removal of qualified immunity.

Number of murders (red) and reported property crimes (blue) in a city with BLM protests is seen relative to the first year that protests began there (vertical dashed line)

Other researchers, including Deepak Premkumar, have examined the increase in violent crime following the protests, which researchers dub ‘the Ferguson effect.’

According to another report from the Daily Mail, proactive policing in Minneapolis plunged dramatically following the death of George Floyd last year, even as violent crime soared. Traffic stops in the city dropped by 74% and high crime area patrols plummetted by 76%.

Anonymous police sources said that the slowdown was due to a massive staffing shortage amid an exodus from the department, and the exodus was due to a fear of becoming the next flashpoint.

One officer said that some Minneapolis officers now deliberately take a longer route than necessary to respond to 911 calls, hoping that whatever incident the call is about will be resolved by the time they arrive. According to another report from Reuters, the average police response time to priority 911 calls was 40 percent longer than it had been a year earlier. 

In Chicago, the number of cops that have retired this year has already surpassed all of the retirements in 2018 and is on track to be the highest number in the history of the department.

According to a report from Chicago Sun-Times, between January and June, around 363 officers quit, and another 56 were expected to retire in February of this year. 

With only around 13,000 cops remaining, Chicago’s 117,000 gang members now outnumber officers by roughly 10 to one, at a time when the Windy City is facing a surge in homicides and shootings.

Ferguson, Missouri was the site of protests and riots following the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, igniting one of the first prominent BLM protests. Premkumar found in a study that murders rise 10 to 17 percent in cities following any police killing which generates more than 1,000 articles of news coverage.

The new crime reporting system released by the FBI shows that the murder rate in almost every city in the United States is at the highest levels in over twenty years.

After looking at reported quarterly data from roughly 12,000 agencies in various cities and states, experts came to the conclusion that in 2020, the country saw more homicides since 1998.

The spike, totaling over 20,000 recorded homicides, was the largest one-year increase in U.S. history.

“We’ve never seen an increase like that. Previously the biggest one-year increase in murder was a 12.5% increase in the 1960s,” statistician and crime analyst Jeff Asher told the Washington Examiner. “We’re really talking about unprecedented increases in murder.”

In St. Louis, Missouri, for example, the city saw the highest homicide rate in 50 years at 87 killings per 100,000 residents. Asher says that’s one of the highest murder rates ever recorded in a U.S. city.

To put this into perspective, Rio De Janeiro has a homicide rate of 29 per 100,000 people, and the murder rate there as well as other third world cities have remained relatively stable throughout the pandemic.

St Louis normally is around 60 per 100,000 homicide rate, which is more than double the rate of Rio De Janeiro, despite Rio having a much higher rate of poverty.

Using the FBI data, Asher concluded that the murder rate for 2020 was approximately 6.22 per 100,000 people. Not since 1998 has the country seen a murder rate that high.

Thirty-four of America’s largest cities have suffered an approximately 30 percent increase in homicides in the year of 2020, according to a survey, with police in four Midwestern cities reporting increases of more than 60 percent over 2019.

The surge started almost directly after the death of George Floyd, and widespread protests and riots involving black lives matter.

In Milwaukee, homicides rose from 97 to 189, a 95 percent increase. In Louisville, homicides increased from 90 to 173, a 92 percent increase.

The majority of the victims of these homicides are black men while the majority of the perpetrators are also black men.

In July of 2021, MSNBC Anchor Chris Hayes definitively declared on his show that increased gun sales are what’s driving the spike in violent crime we’ve seen over the last year or so. 

The idea that increased gun sales are responsible for the surge in violent crime across the country has been debunked by academic studies. In fact, the results of one study were even reported by the left-leaning paper, The Guardian.

Through July of last year, there was no clear association between the increase in firearm purchases and the increase in most interpersonal gun violence at the state level, according to a new study published in Injury Epidemiology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

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