Along with the pain of the coronavirus pandemic, American cities are also dealing with a spike in homicides. That trend has been confirmed in several separate reports from various sources with one analysis by crime analyst Jeff Asher finding that the homicide rate has risen 23 percent in 23 major U.S. cities through June compared to the same period in 2019. Interestingly, Asher’s analysis found that overall crime is actually down 7.2 percent while violent crime and property crime have experienced falls of 2.2 percent and 8.8 percent respectively.
Chicago is a good example of the 2020 trend. The Windy City experienced its most violent month in 28 years this July with 105 homicides reported, double the 44 it experienced during July of 2019. Even though Ahser’s research only runs to the end of June, it shows that Chicago had 433 murders through June 2020 compared to 284 during the same period last year. Philadelphia saw its murder count grow from 187 to 247 during the same period while New York’s climbed from 176 to 227.
When it comes to the reasons for the trend, experts remain uncertain. Some opinions cited by Vox point towards the protests after George Floyd’s death which may have led to some police departments taking a step back from communities as a result of distrust, leading to higher levels of violence. Others point the finger at the economy and the social upheaval caused by the coronavirus lockdown. While the overall trend is negative, some major cities have seen a decrease in murders. Las Vegas had 44 homicides in the first half of 2020 compared to 50 in the in the first six months of last year. Dallas has also experienced fewer murders this year with 118 in 2020 compared to 123 from January to June of 2019.