Why Are Shootings Up in New York City? We Asked Four People on the Front Lines

Yves here. Even though crime reports overall are a bit down,1 violent crimes, particularly murders, have spiked in the US in 2020, leaving experts scrambling for explanations. You’d think “It’s the Covid, stupid, plus gunz” would suffice to explain more shootings, but understanding the dynamics is important to having any success in moderating this terrible trend. From Vox early this month:

A new report, by the Council on Criminal Justice, found homicides have increased sharply this year across 21 US cities with relevant data: “Homicide rates increased by 42% during the summer and 34% in the fall over the summer and fall of 2019.” Other data, from crime analyst Jeff Asher, found murder is up 36 percent throughout the year so far, compared to the same period in 2019, in a sample of 51 US cities. A preliminary FBI reportalso found murders up 15 percent nationwide in the first half of 2020.

The increase in homicides is large and widespread enough to raise serious alarms for criminologists and other experts. So what’s going on?

Some experts have cited the protests this summer over the police killings of George Floyd and others — which could’ve had a range of effects, from officers pulling back from their duties to greater community distrust in police, leading to more unchecked violence. Others point to the bad economy. Another potential factor is a huge increase in gun purchases this year. Still others posit boredom and social displacement as a result of physical distancing leading people to cause more trouble.

Above all, though, experts caution it’s simply been a very unusual year with the Covid-19 pandemic. That makes it difficult to say what, exactly, is happening with crime rates. “The current year, 2020, is an extreme deviation from baseline — extreme,” Tracey Meares, founding director at the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School, previously told me.

Experts hope that conditions will revert to the old normal once we are past the Covid crisis. But that cheery view ignores the way the disease looks set to increase already high levels of inequality….which are particularly visible in cities. New York has a Gini coefficient as high as China’s. The US is on track to start an eviction wave in the new year. Some will escape homelessness but others won’t. How do those reduced to living in cars, in shelters, on the street, or encampments claw their way back, particularly when unemployment is high?

So the stakes are very high if your perilous position is being savaged by Covid, even if you remain in decent health. And notice a key factoid: at least in New York City, guns have become cheaper and more plentiful.

By Reuen Blau, rblau@thecity.nyc. Originally published at THE CITY on December 21, 2020

Maria Gonzalez shows an image of her son, Armani Hamilton, 22, who was fatally shot in Crown Heights during the summer. Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

The statistics are grim: 1,480 shootings in New York City as of Thursday, almost double the 748 logged during the same period last year. The city is expected to finish 2020 with a 14-year high in that category of violence, according to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.

Meanwhile, murders are up 40%, from 312 in 2019 to 436 so far, NYPD records show.

Victims range from a 1-year-old boy shot at a barbecue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a 29-year-old father gunned down as he walked hand-in-hand with his young daughter while crossing a street in Claremont and a 60-year-old woman struck by a stray bullet in Brownsville.

Shea and some police unions and lawmakers blame the increase in shootings on bail reform enacted by the state Legislature. Police reformers and academics contend that’s merely an excuse with no data to back the claim.

They say economic hardships exacerbated by the pandemic and a lack of government support to those hardest hit are among the primary culprits.

THE CITY spoke separately to four people who are, to varying degrees, on the front lines: a mother whose son was killed, an NYPD sergeant, a violence interrupter and an academic who focuses on crime.

They were each asked two questions: Why do they think there has been a spike in shootings? And what needs to be done to curb the violence?

Here’s what they had to say:

‘I See a Lot of Suffering’

Maria Gonzalez’s son, Armani Hamilton, 22, was fatally shot twice in the torso in Crown Heights on July 23.

Gonzalez: I’m constantly crying. Because I don’t even know what to do with myself anymore. I have family support. I got my mother living with me. I’ve got my oldest niece living with me as well. But I just don’t want to be here. I’ve lived in the Kingsborough Houses for 23 years.

Iesha Sekou is the Founder and CEO of Street Corner Resources, Inc., a crime interrupter group based in Harlem.

Sekou: It’s very draining. Last week, I was dealing with a mother who was trying to bury her son who was shot. And we were trying to get his body released from the morgue. Our counselor was not in the office. We were actually supposed to be closed that day. But the mother wanted to stop by and I didn’t want to say no. So I showed up to the office.

This veteran NYPD sergeant works in Lower Manhattan. The cop requested anonymity.

NYPD Sergeant: I see a lot of suffering. There’s mold and cockroaches everywhere in the NYCHA facility in my area in Lower Manhattan. The buildings are cold. The garbage. It’s everywhere. The elevators smell like urine. Shootings are through the roof.

Gonzalez: My son, he graduated last year from high school. He was only 22 years old at the time. I asked him to pick stuff up from the supermarket and he was only gone about an hour. And then I heard these gunshots. I was doing some stuff with my mother in the living room. But it didn’t dawn on me at the time because I was in a deep discussion with my mom. The TV was up.

Then the neighbor knocks on the door and she tells me my son just got shot and he’s laid out in the middle of the street. From there I just lost it. My mind just took off. I started screaming. I was in house clothes and I just couldn’t find nothing decent to put on to go outside. I think God didn’t allow me to see him like that. So He just made me confused and disoriented. I couldn’t find my shoes. My mind just totally went blank.

‘People are Angry’

Alex Vitale is the coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College.

Vitale: Why has there been an increase in shootings? It’s pretty closely correlated with the onset of COVID. Especially the period right after the most intensive lockdowns. So I think what we’re seeing here is a response to a deep, deep level of sort of social and economic instability and insecurity. That’s creating a tremendous amount of stress in already stressed communities. And some of that is getting expressed as interpersonal violence.

NYPD Sergeant: (He noted that arrests are down this year — from 207,759 in 2019 to about 134,000 as of last week, according to the NYPD.) Why is that happening? I think it’s a combination of things. There’s been so many recent changes with the body cameras and the overzealous supervision of cops. Officers are afraid to do anything because they don’t want to make a mistake and get in trouble. They’re afraid to stick their neck out to do anything because they don’t want to get fired.

Vitale: For the police, the solution to every problem is arrest more people. So even when there’s no crime it’s because they arrested more people. And when there’s a lot of crime, it’s because they haven’t arrested enough people. It’s like there’s no scenario where their comment isn’t that we need to arrest more people. For 100 years, every time you ask the Police Department, “What should be done?” Their answer is arrest more people. There’s never any variation in what they say. It’s not credible.

Sekou: One of the reasons why there’s been a spike is people not being at work. It’s not normal trauma, particularly in urban communities, poor communities now impacted by this pandemic. So those who do the shooting, maybe, have been looking for people who they now see in the neighborhood. They are around more. People are extra stressed. So things they may have tolerated in the past, they’re not tolerating now. People are angry. Old beefs come back, particularly beefs about money at a time when people don’t have money.

Gang Violence to Blame?

Gonzalez: I mean, when I moved here 23 years ago, this area was really quiet. You didn’t really see as much going on as you do now. Over the years it started increasing. I say maybe about four years ago. You started to see the gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. I just don’t understand. They are very territorial. The colors, you got to be careful whatever you wear, who you be around, and who you’re affiliated with. I mean, I just don’t understand. They are out here killing our children.

NYPD Sergeant: If you want to see what’s going on, you send in undercovers in these gangs. Not undercovers the way they’re doing it now with buy-and-busts on the street. You got to be on the inside to know what’s going on. But that takes money, money that the department doesn’t want to spend.

The department has somewhat of a big budget. [But] I do think it’s not using the resources properly. It’s marred by a tremendous nepotistic corruption. Everybody’s worried about protecting their little spot. Nobody wants to be on patrol. When you’re inside, you have a lesser chance of getting jammed up. When you’re on the street, you’re dealing with perps, and you put your hand on people. Your chances of getting in trouble are astronomical.

Vitale: It seems very clear. The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice said in The Wall Street Journal that the bulk of this violence is about interpersonal beefs. This is not about organized criminality. This is not about some kind of gang war. This is people under a lot of stress, carrying weapons, escalating conflicts. So what kinds of methods could the police use? They could either try to more aggressively get convictions and arrests of people, but they’re already doing that? They’re already putting a tremendous amount of effort into that and it’s not proving at all successful.

They could be even more aggressive about preventative interventions. But because the violence seems to be of an interpersonal variety, that means that it is dispersed among populations. And this would require basically bringing back widespread indiscriminate stop-and-frisk practices, which are both illegal and politically unsupported.

Gonzalez: It’s happening because they took off the stop-and-frisk. That’s when I started to notice a lot of violence. If you are looking suspicious, I could see them stopping and questioning you. I also believe the undercovers, for some apparent reason, I don’t know if it was a budget cut, they used to be out here all types of nights. Now, they don’t have it like that. It’s difficult because it’s a Catch-22 when it comes to patrolling different areas. It just seems like after the death of my son, that weekend, there must have been 100 shootings. I can’t even pinpoint the number of how many died.

NYPD Sergeant: There are hardly any more undercovers in the department. But there’s an argument against that, too. I heard narcotics tried to increase buy-and-busts where there was an increase in shootings. And that didn’t work.

An Economic Crisis

Vitale: The real solution to this is going to be improvements in people’s economic security. So we got to do something about the fact that people can’t pay rent and don’t have enough food to put on the table. And the federal government has abandoned us in this regard.

This winter is going to be very bad for people in these already hard-hit communities. The city has got to figure out some way of guaranteeing more aggressively that people are not going to get evicted. A massive increase in food support for people and also looking at providing some income to people. Those are the real solutions.

NYPD Sergeant: When I’m driving on patrol you see food pantries and hundreds of people on the lines. Black, Asian and Jewish people. I’m just astounded by the amount of people on the breadlines.

Vitale: Is there anything we can do more immediately, to try to tamp down the violence? I think that we do need to look at, you know, community-based, street-level anti-violence initiatives, like the Cure Violence programs that rely on credible messengers. We just need to have more people out on the speakers engaged in peacemaking.

I think one of the ways to do that is to expand the number of groups because they don’t exist in some of the neighborhoods where violence is increasing, like Canarsie. But also, we should involve those groups in these kinds of mutual aid activities that can provide some of that economic stability to the communities that are most in need.

Violence interrupters with Save Our Streets in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, after a shooting, Oct. 20, 2020. Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Sekou: I think all the access to guns has become greater. Someone told me that guns are cheaper on the street now. And then guns came in at the same time as the extra hard fireworks. The guns came from down South with those fireworks, same people that brought the fireworks brought the guns. And I think with the city not having as many of the resources that it normally (does) is contributing to it. The city has cut back. Also, people dying, people losing parents and aunts and uncles and they couldn’t go to the hospital to see them. Somebody who would normally be calm.

‘Hardship Every Single Day’

Gonzalez: (Speaking about the day her son died) When we get to Kings County Hospital, they tell me that I have to wait to see the doctor. I used to work at a hospital for 20 years as security so I know when you have to wait for a doctor to come out and talk to you that’s not a good sign. I told the lady: “Listen, I don’t know what’s going on but I need some answers. I need them right now. Because I’m not feeling well.”

They brought me to some room with a lot of sofas and told me to sit down. I refused. I asked if my son died. She said she’d get one of the surgeons. When he came out he told me, “Unfortunately, your son did not make it. He lost a lot of blood.”

I just fainted. When I woke up, I’m in a wheelchair and they tried to relax me, like sedate me. My husband says, “We got to get together because I want you to see Armani.” So I tried to put it together. I was the first one to go and see him. And he was still hot. I was just in disbelief that I’m actually seeing my son on this table. He was shot three times. One went through the lungs, one grazed the heart, and another went in and out past the rib cage. I just don’t understand.

A memorial set by friends and family in honor of Armani Hamilton Courtesy of Maria Gonzalez

My son wasn’t one who hung out on the streets. He was quiet. I really don’t understand how it played out. There were two individuals, one who shot him. They are still out there. Nobody saw nothing? Nobody knows who they are? Why aren’t they arrested?

No parent should have to go after their children. This is very stressful. Armani was my only son. I have no more children. And I go through hardship every single day. It’s just been very overwhelming. I’m not sleeping, not eating. It took a month or two after his death before I got my appetite back again. I really don’t sleep. Like, I actually did not sleep since yesterday afternoon and it’s morning right now. And I have not slept yet.

(Interviews have been lightly edited for length and clarity.)

This story was originally published by THE CITY, an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.


1 One reason for the overall decline could be reduced crime against property due to lockdowns. If most people are at home all the time, burglary and car thefts become riskier. Or it could be the William Gibson notion, “The future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed.”

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  1. Larry

    A bit of a mixed bag in the responses, but it’s clear the underlying current is economic insecurity destabilizes society. That’s the tragedy that our political class very clearly doesn’t care about.

    1. flora

      That’s my take-away from the story. I wonder if these murder numbers are finally penetrating the thick skulls in D.C.


      Also, each person in the story had a different idea about what approachs or programs are most important. Maybe all of them are right; all the programs and approaches they name are important for bringing down the murder rates.

  2. Tom Stone

    The Sullivan Act passed in 1920, which effectively banned the possession of firearms in NYC by ordinary Citizens ( Trump hot his Concealed Weapons permit for the asking.).
    If more gunz are showing up. more people are willing to become felons by possessing them.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I did not elaborate on that point, so glad you made it. One of the nicest things about living in NYC (at least the tamer ‘hoods) was not worrying about guns, as in random arguments escalating in the worst possible way.

      1. Geo

        As someone who has been on the wrong side of a few guns in my life it’s jarring just how drastically they shift the power balance. For people who have so little control in their lives, a gun quickly changes that and gives them power. This, to me, is the biggest danger of guns. Not that they’re merely a weapon but in a society were the masses have been stripped of control in their day to day lives, feel powerless, having a gun becomes a means of asserting power. Then, all they have to do is find that person they think is a danger to their way of life. For me, it was homophobes who wanted to send a message. In impoverished communities it could simply be someone who didn’t show respect or looks to have more luxury than the gun wielder. Also why militias and gun culture are so alluring for so many with no power and no sense of belonging.

        Oddly, in my 17 years in NYC and 6 years in LA the only gun I ever had pulled on me was by police once during a building raid. The other times were when I was a teen in small town America. And was threatened with assault recently while in Texas (not with a gun, just a dude in a cowboy hat with an AR-15 on his t-shirt). Apparently being arty in small towns isn’t appreciated. Personally, I’ll still take big city dangers over small town ones any day.

  3. Mark

    All very sad.

    A simplistic. view from an outsider. Poverty, extreme inequality and easy access to guns. Not to mention a underbelly of society that has glorified violence and gangs. The societal issue around this are not new, but lower employment has meant people have more time of their hands to get up to trouble. Not to mention the additional issues of lower incomes (likely including dealers who are fewer customers for their products).

    In other words to flip the question on its head why has shootings been lower? Because people have had more important things to do.

    In contrast here is the UK.

      1. Carla

        Gun sales up 73% from 2019 to 2020 — ABC News story lede.

        Ask anyone who lives in a normal country. They’ll tell you people don’t use guns they don’t have. Clearly, USA USA proves that people DO use guns when they have them.

  4. Polar Donkey

    Amazing that New York has 7 million people and had 436 murders. Memphis has 645,000 people and about 310 murders. Last year we had a record 230 murders. Guns are everywhere. Over the past few years, i have personally known 4 people who have been shot. 2 dead, 2 wounded. Numerous more by one degree of separation. I do not know one white person shot, all were black. Memphis is highly economically and racially polarized. Almost 2/3’s of Memphis is black, 30% white. The social problems have been mountainous and forever. Every black family has members who have died from violence. My friend worked for a social justice non-profit doing work ranging from homelessness, to slumlords, to civilian law enforcement review board, he believed nearly half the city had some degree of PTSD. Memphis never cared about poor people and actively shit on them since the founding of city. That way disproportionately affected black people here, But alot white people in West Virginia or Native Americans in the Great Plains or Pacific Islanders in California have same problems. America is brutal to its poor and weak. We seem to have decided to make more poor, weak, and guns. A strange choice.

      1. marku52

        Getting lead out of gas and paint led to a long term decrease in violent crime. Lead exposure in childhood leads to permanent brain damage, lower IQ and poor impulse control. And of course, there was a strong racial component to who was damaged. As the damaged cohort ages out of the age of violent crime, violent crime has been dropping for decades, regardless of types of policing, stop and frisk, no stop and frisk, broken windows, etc.

        Up until now.

  5. MDA

    I’d love if we could quantify how much of our violent crime is rooted in the war on drugs. How different would things be if, instead of driving the drug market underground, we distributed drugs to recreational users and addicts the same way we distribute alcohol and prescription drugs today? Maybe, in that fantasy world, there would be less friction between the police and the communities they serve, and existing police resources would be more than enough for whatever criminal activity remained.

    1. Mark

      I completely agree. And it isn’t just local. How much violence and brutality and widespread corruption goes on in Mexico and other cartel countries just to feed the US (and others) desire for drugs? It really seems that the ‘cure’ is far worse than the disease.

      Sure, drug use can destroy lives. But prohibition is working about as well for drugs as it did for alcohol.

    2. Lou Mannheim

      Maybe if you allow the current participants in the distribution of illegal drugs to also participate in a legalized framework. Otherwise Capital hoovers all the benefits and the gangs have to find new sources of revenue.

    3. Carla

      Our violent crime rate is rooted in out-of-control sales of guns and ammunition —

      “An estimated 21 million guns have been sold in 2020, up 73% from 2019.” — from the ABC News story I attempted to link and unfortunately did incorrectly, above. Now corrected by Massinnissa.

    4. BrianC - PDX

      A good book to read on the creation of the DEA and the war on drugs would be this one:

      From my memory –
      – The DEA was created specifically to report directly to the President. Unlike the FBI that reported through the Justice Department. Allowing the Executive direct control of a law enforcement agency.
      – The DEA was put together by pulling agents/roles from other agencies. They would “bring their powers” with them. Ex: IRS agents would transfer to DEA, but have the power to audit and do IRS stuff, while doing new DEA things too.

      The war on drugs was also framed as a way to marginalize and target groups that Nixon and crew wanted removed from the public square. Hippies and persons of color.

      Drug abuse has never been amenable to being solved by law enforcement action. It is a public health issue and needs to be treated as such. Though steps are being made in that direction, see the legalization efforts around Pot and others. (in Oregon.) There is a heck of a lot of money invested in keeping the status quo and the entrenched elites feeding at the trough won’t give up without a fight.

  6. Mike

    It is the same in Philly- and it seems the randomness parallels NYC. Problem may be tied to drug deal debts in some cases (no one has spare change to pay off such debts to gangs), and family disputes that are just not admitted by survivors. Inequality may be at play, but just plain suffering, and its psychological effects, are simply not understood by police. The worldview of cops is simply to simplistically black-and-white to consider the full picture.

    1. neo-realist

      Some cops do understand, e.g., the NYPD Sargeant, but their tools to handle the problems are very limited. The cops can only deal with the end results of hard wired institutionalized economic and social inequality resulting from decades of conservative/neo-liberal policies by either locking the victims away from society or eliminating them permanently. It’s not like they can write checks for people to buy food and pay rent.

  7. Oso_in_Oakland

    Very balanced article, all four sources very accurately described things from the personal PoV, thank you Yves Smith. we face similar situations here, OPD’s response basically same as NYPD sgt, blaming gang activity and calls for defunding. Religious leaders believe the police blame gang activity to prevent budget cuts. FWIW there was a citywide gang truce called back in August, don’t know how effective it’s been in reality but most people think it’s not gangs, rather the economy and that includes all the street hustles people do to get by. I think the academic said it best:
    Vitale: The real solution to this is going to be improvements in people’s economic security. So we got to do something about the fact that people can’t pay rent and don’t have enough food to put on the table. And the federal government has abandoned us in this regard

  8. ambrit

    I have observed that the middle and lower classes here have become more ‘militarized’ over the past few years. The economic inequality issue really started having an impact on social relations after the economic assassinations of 2008-09. The Dreaded Pathogen has just been the “cherry on top” for economic dislocations. Fearful people make more than usually stupid decisions in times of personal stress and danger.
    A second factor I find possible in this is the growing distrust of the police forces at all levels of society. Local middle income people are not only arming themselves, they are also establishing inter-personal peer to peer self protection networks. It is a small step from having such a network available to using it in a vigilante manner. I would imagine, more knowledgeable commenters correct me if I go too far astray, that lower strata of the socio-economic hierarchy would find such a course of action appealing too. All it takes are a few ‘impassioned’ local organizers to establish a community based ethos of community policing. From what I have observed of this town’s elites, the top tier would happily ‘look the other way’ if reasonably “loyal” citizens took up some of the slack in community policing. The local police budget is being scrutinized for budgetary cuts is what one of my acquaintances with “inside knowledge” says.

    1. Wukchumni

      For what its worth dept:

      I noticed gun infatuation really getting out of hand here starting after the fall of the Communist bloc party, and oodles of dirt cheap ammo flooded our shores from all points of the party.

  9. sd

    5 shootings in one day in Altadena which is in the foothills just above Pasadena (home of the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade) Pasadena has a gang area in the northwest corner and the increase in shootings is believed to be connected. There’s also been an increase in armed robbery and breaks ins. The lootings that were taking place during the protests were highly organized and also believed to be gang related.
    If I had to guess, traditional revenue streams have dried up, so turf wars are breaking out. In the end, it’s always about money and power.

  10. LAS

    I’ve done surveys of NYCHA (NYC public housing) residents for years, and for years residents have been expressing concern about safety and the deteriorating housing stock. It is housing for low income residents. This housing was once decent, but decades long disinvestment has resulted in unacceptable levels of maintenance and security. Resident associations have been active advocates for their communities, but have not succeeded in reversing the dominant neo-capitalist disinvestment from public infrastructure. NYCHA properties are no older than many other older NYC apartment buildings. However the buildings on Park and Fifth Avenues are maintained, while the public housing buildings in Brooklyn, Harlem and Bronx are not. Moreover, NYC does not regulate NYCHA properties the way it does private coop buildings and market rate rentals.

    The fact is city, state, and federal governments have each in their way disinvested in the public housing concept, all the while trying to deflect responsibility toward the other arms of government. Politicians have shifted their support to section 8 housing, which benefits private landlords, but is not ample enough to meet the needs of a large population of low income workers.

    Public housing was organized in the 1960’s to have resident associations and on-site community based programs. With disinvestment, youth programs and senior programs have been cut. Then the pandemic came and really shut everything down, except for things like grab and go meal distribution. The social programs were very important to the community. Some of them helped to develop the talents of the neighborhood youth, and everyone was safer when the neighborhood was rich with community based programs. There is greater chance of getting the exposures and contacts that enhance economic opportunity. The loss/closing of child, youth, and senior center programs has added to the pandemic tragedy greatly. These programs were already humble endeavors, but the social impact was important. Societies have been hurt. Now it seems like there is a resurgence in drug dealing as the remaining economic opportunity, which leads to turf fights. And it is all mostly due to what was withdrawn.

    1. Oso_in_Oakland

      “There is greater chance of getting the exposures and contacts that enhance economic opportunity. The loss/closing of child, youth, and senior center programs has added to the pandemic tragedy greatly. These programs were already humble endeavors, but the social impact was important. Societies have been hurt. Now it seems like there is a resurgence in drug dealing as the remaining economic opportunity, which leads to turf fights. And it is all mostly due to what was withdrawn”
      much love, this encapsulates things so well. groups like the BPP and Brown Berets filled in the gaps over the years, more recently groups like Moms4Housing did the community and youth work. Of course there’s a huge difference between govt millions and literally passing a hat for funding, but the answer remains the same. work within the community enables it to prosper.

  11. The S

    Let’s not forget the massive wave of violence police unleashed against this summer’s insurrection! Mentioning the heavy fireworks without mentioning that they were being fired off directly behind the Brooklyn police station for weeks while the police never seemed to investigate or care is disingenuous. Also, I’m afraid much of the violence crime spike was the actions of the police themselves, resisting the call to abolish police by spreading violence so that citizens would then ask for more policing instead of less. If one is part of a completely unaccountable murder militia, what would stop one from breaking some windows, cracking some heads, and shooting a few people so one could then point and say “looks like the police are needed even more than ever!”

    A thousand videos of unchecked police violence definitely convinced me that cops would resist their deBa’athification with a militarized terror campaign.

  12. Duke of Prunes

    In Chicago, some of the increased violence over the summer stemmed from parties held in downtown hotels because of low Covid hotel rates + $600/wk unemployment benefits. The wrong people rub the wrong people the wrong way, and the guns come out and the shooting starts. This is in addition to the typical drive-bys in the ‘hood. There’s been almost 600 (598) multiple victim shootings so far this year. Only the most egregious are reported on the TV, but 97% of the victims are black so who cares, am I right!?!

    Yes, guns are illegal in Chicago, but many habitual offenders charged with gun violations get a slap on the wrist from the DA. I can understand the argument for keeping people out of jail for “non-violent” crimes, but, conversely, it seems like the lack of consequences might have something to do with the violence, and clearly more gun laws don’t help since the DA doesn’t seem interested in enforcing those that exist. Car jackings are way up, too. Similar reasons. No consequences.


    Go to cwbchicago.com
    – search “wabash bridge” to see some of the hotel party activity over the summer.
    – search “low bail” to see support for my lack of gun law enforcement statement

    The crime stats from from a blog with a non-family friendly name “heyjack***.com”

    1. Shiloh1

      Also Second City Cop blog.

      No local Chicago mainstream media outlet is to be trusted on this subject, especially The Fibune.

  13. Pym of Nantucket

    I wonder if there is another factor, which is more nebulous, which does not lend itself to pet solutions in the left/right false dichotomy, which is simply related to decline. The unmistakeable decline in US as global leader and role model in the world (related to many many things but I think partly just because an empire has to end after its power attracts lots of corruption into its leadership structure and can’t shake it off while there is pork available) is creating a reek of pessimism everywhere. Lawlessness comes for a lack of invisible social pressure and as one poster said, lack of trust. Just a general sense that people who follow the rules are suckers, not upstanding people to be admired.

    The US just put forward a 5500 page bill to give some pennies to the poor and 80% of the pork to the usual suspects. That to me speaks volumes on the State of the Union in the US. Not super confidence inspiring that the US shining light on the hill is going to burn bright for much longer. Why be law abiding in a place where the entire leadership and oligarchy seem to be surfing in graft? So, so, so many symptoms of essentially what amounts to decay. Some places like El Salvador or Somalia, to choose a few, have trouble breaking the cycle of crooked decay and I am wondering if something like that is creeping up on the US.

    Some things are not reversible. This is a concept in thermodynamics which is really important. The trip down is not just the trip up in reverse. Unpacking the growth and dominance of the US doesn’t just conveniently return to pre-hegemony state. It leads to a new state where things will have to self organize once the opportunity to skim the cream is no longer an option for the oligarchy. The oligarchs will pack their stuff and head off to suck the blood from the incoming global hegemony wherever they can find it.

    I know this is a huge jump in logic from the simple increase in murder but I’m just throwing this idea out there – I won’t try to defend this as an academic theory. There are places with far less wealth, and far less disorder, so it’s not just about poverty. It’s about how things are different when they shrink, compared to when they grow, and we all have to pay attention if sustainability is what we want.

    1. Dan

      There are places with far less wealth, and far less disorder, so it’s not just about poverty.

      Thank you for your comment. I think your “huge jump in logic” is necessary for a deeper, clearer understanding. I’m reminded of anthropologist Marshall Sahlins continually prophetic words:

      “The world’s most primitive people have few possessions, but they are not poor. Poverty is not a certain small amount of goods, nor is it just a relation between means and ends; above all it is a relation between people. Poverty is a social status. As such it is the invention of civilization.”

      1. Janie

        Remember the movie, “the gods must be crazy”? The Bushmen are happy until a coke bottle appears and causes jealousy and fighting.

      2. Procopius

        From what I’ve read, “the world’s most primitive people” are strongly inclined to violence. They may not conduct war, but a couple of neighbors might get together to go down the road a piece and chop off someone’s head to put on a pole in from of their houses. Story about some anthropologist who waxed ecstatic over a tribe he was studying whose people “share their dreams.” He was blowpiped to death by a guy whose girl-friend he messed around with. I think stories from Papua-New Guinea are more universal than the African Bushmen.

  14. Palaver

    “What Cops Know” by Connie Fletcher, 1992: ‘When Americans get together, they tend to kill each other.’

    This was their explanation to the regular spike in homicides during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Considering the pressure of Covid lockdowns, maybe we should commend Americans for a murder rate not being higher than it is.

    That said, work probably distracted people from the “behavioral sink” of crowded and stressed environments. Current civilization resembles Calhoun’s rat utopia experiments more than it does any civics textbook.

  15. Jay

    A number of my family are in law enforcement. Some in NYC itself. There has been a slow drift away from rule of law and personal accountability. Especially in the big cities. NYC began letting criminals back onto the streets after arrest. The media support of anti-police violence has law enforcement stepping back and not going into certain neighborhoods and not intervening in certain situations because it is too high risk. This all on top of decades of cultural rot and worship of false idols. When there is no accountability for bad behavior — and media encouragement of violence and destruction (see this summer’s BLM/antifa urban destruction) — why is there a question of why violence is rising?

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