Commentary: Violent crime returns with a vengeance

Crime will be high on the ballot for the first time in a quarter-century next fall. We know where conservatives stand; the left still needs to decide.

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Last year the United States tallied more than 20,000 murders — the highest total in a quarter century and 4,000 more than 2019. The 25% jump is also the largest single year increase since uniform data commenced 60 years ago.

Twenty children in Minneapolis have been shot so far in 2021, an increase of 171% over the same period last year. Homicides in the city this year are up over 113% compared with the same period in 2020; shootings, and especially carjackings, have increased even more, at 153% and a whopping 222%, respectively. When did the massive crime increase begin? A year ago, following George Floyd’s death.

“It is beyond dispute that the protests and unchecked riots that followed Floyd’s death sparked an epidemic of crime that continues to engulf American cities,” Michael Goodwin wrote Wednesday.

After the May 25 incident, the far left Minneapolis City Council infamously called for abolishing the police and installing a “new transformative model for cultivating safety.” That was a meaningless social justice phrase, but incredibly dangerous, both in theory and slashing nearly $9 million.

While marauding thugs attack civilians, assaults on law enforcement also continue. Officers report they are routinely punched, kicked, and hit with projectiles.

Within weeks of the riots, at least 200 Minneapolis officers resigned or took leave. Former officers say they felt helpless and unable to do their jobs properly. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey now says the force is overwhelmed and needs additional manpower.

Across the Mississippi River, St. Paul progressives hope to “rethink” police responses. Maybe rethink why your city is more dangerous than 93% of American locales.

The situation is similarly dire elsewhere.

A precipitous decline in law enforcement activity occurred beginning in June 2020 from Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles to New Orleans, St. Louis and Seattle. Sixty-three of the 66 largest police jurisdictions suddenly saw a rise in violent crime last year.

When engaged policing falls, deadly violence rises. And so much of this is political.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, who oversees the most hateful city in America, “defunded” the Portland Police Bureau last summer by $12 million and eliminated three units. Murders jumped an astounding 255%.

In Chicago, where the inept left-wing mayor is preoccupied being a racist, police made 31,000 fewer arrests last year as murders rose. Just last weekend, 55 people were shot in Chicago during a particularly deadly weekend in the Midwest and East. Based on recent history, we can sadly expect more Windy City violence Memorial Day Weekend.

When not seeing racial and religious hate crimes, America’s major cities continue awash in violence. This caused everyone but the indigent and wealthy to flee to suburban and rural environs.

In America’s largest city, where residents flee violence and vulgarity, voters have a big leadership choice next month.

As polls show most Americans realize crime is rising, an obvious solution is more police, harsher penalties, and ending “early release” nonsense, but for starters, maybe focus on issues that matter.

“What is necessary to understand in the present is that our current cultural convulsion is being used as moral camouflage for failing institutions, from city governments to federal agencies, and from the college campus to the commanding heights of media and technology,” Kevin Williamson wrote in his Sunday essay. “What we do at the personal level, we also do at the political level. That is why we are so fixated on statues put up a century ago and on the average daily temperatures a century hence — anything to avoid looking soberly at our real troubles in the here and now.”

Maybe some lefties are coming around. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a new initiative to combat the surge Wednesday.

New York Times columnist Ezra Klein recently bemoaned that violent crime could help Republicans in future elections. Some cities are finally learning that defunding police has deleterious effects.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon mocked concerns about crime last summer, but only a month later, Lemon worried the horrific riots and crime would hurt Democrats.

Indeed a top Democrat data scientist believes perceptions that Democrats did not support law enforcement drove non-white voters who value safety toward Republican candidates.

“The problem that Democrats have is that they have either made themselves — or allied themselves with people making — a comprehensive case against the police as systematically racist,” Rich Lowry wrote at Politico. “This is an agenda that will be hard to sell to most people in the best of circumstances, but it is toxic in an environment of rising crime.”

Crime will be high on the ballot for the first time in a quarter-century next fall. We know where conservatives stand; the left still needs to decide.