UPDATED 8:30 AM PT – Sunday, January 3, 2021
Experts say that 2020 ended as the most violent year in U.S. history.
According to reports, the U.S. saw the single largest one-year increase in homicides. The country experienced nearly a 21 percent rise in killings throughout the first nine months.
The surge was seen across the board from Cleveland to Memphis to Phoenix to New Orleans. Cities large and small saw the spike.
In Minneapolis, a reported 81 people were killed as of late December, which marked a 72 percent increase from 2019. Additionally, St. Louis marked its highest homicide rate in five decades with 262 killings.
In New York City, 477 homicides were reported, which is a 41 percent increase over the previous year as well as the highest number since 2011. Even the nation’s capital wasn’t spared as reports said Washington D.C. saw 198 homicides. This is Washington’s highest number since 2004.
The city of Chicago carried the highest death toll with 769 people killed over the course of 2020, compared to 495 in 2019.
“This is an unprecedented rise in shootings and homicides in Chicago,” Loyola University Professor David Olson said. “But we’ve also had an unprecedented situation with the pandemic.”
Cities also reported a spike in shootings. For example, nearly 4,000 shootings occurred in Philadelphia, which left 2,000 people wounded. Los Angeles reported 2,700 more shootings this year with around 1,200 victims.
According to researchers, the surge in violence in nearly every city occurred around the end of May and the beginning of June, which is the time nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd kicked off. This was then followed by the push to defund the police.
Experts also said the pandemic played a large role in the spike.
“There’s a sense that the criminal justice system has been so adversely impacted by this pandemic,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said. “That the deterrent value of being captured or being arrested and brought before the criminal justice system just simply is not there.”
Reports noted the pandemic led to a drop in non-violent crimes, but police numbers were reduced due to officers calling out sick. Additionally, officers were limited in their interactions with the public due to COVID-19 restrictions.