By Ilyanna Garcia-Alicea ’22
Los Angeles, Chicago, and many other U.S. cities are currently experiencing a surge in shootings and gun-related fatalities. This recent plague of violence brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Black and Brown communities.
President Donald Trump has made claims that the recent rise in violence is due to the poor leadership of Democratic lawmakers, singling out New York City and its “radical left” mayor in a recent interview. However, analysts claim that the rise in killings is a bipartisan problem. The Wall Street Journal’s analysis on the recent homicide spike shows that death rates are rising just as quickly in Republican-led cities, including Miami, Tulsa, and Jacksonville, where the crime rate has increased by almost 24%.
Gun violence has always been a significant issue in the United States and has only been made worse by the pandemic. Nationwide tension regarding the COVID-19 lockdown and the resulting economic recession have brought added hostility to even the most peaceful cities. Anti-violence and deescalation programs have been affected immensely by the shutdown, leaving citizens with more opportunities to commit crimes.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s "End Gun Violence Plan" faced extreme criticism last month due to its lack of specifics. De Blasio acknowledged the condition of the State of New York and how the pandemic and economic crisis affect our justice system. "It's a perfect storm out there. Not only are the courts not fully open, but don't fail to notice that there is a historic pandemic and economic crisis right now," said Mayor de Blasio.
The new wave of civil rights activism and the strong reemergence of the Black Lives Matter movement have also contributed to the growth of violence in our largest cities. The recent deaths of unarmed Black Americans such as George Floyd have caused public outroar regarding police brutality. In response, there have been violent protests in many cities that have given certain demonstrators the tools and willpower to commit these violent crimes, inside and outside of the protests. The rising and overt tension between law enforcement officers and underprivileged communities has played a significant part in the current violence.
Lawmakers and politicians nationwide are working towards a solution for this violence during an already difficult time. With this wave of crime has come a wave of education regarding law enforcement. Police departments across the country have made alterations in their ways of policing, and some communities have defunded their police to invest in alternative services that will help ameliorate high crime rates. Communities that continue to invest in proper training and social services show the most promise. Lawmakers will likely soon be forced to ponder the moral and ethical consequences of gun violence and will have to act accordingly in order to protect the lives of the American people.