Nationwide data on crime won’t be available for months, but data from big cities show that the spike in homicides and shootings frequently followed Floyd’s death at the end of May and the ensuing protests at the beginning of June.
On top of its other tragedies, 2020 saw the biggest surge in violent crime in decades. Homicides rose a projected 25% to 30%, to over 20,000 dead. The FBI reports a precipitous increase in violent crime overall, with other sources saying shootings rose in particular.
Commentators have floated numerous explanations: COVID, lockdowns, the recession, drugs, gun sales. But they often don’t acknowledge a role for the wave of anti-police protests that swept the country last summer following the killing of George Floyd, and the agitation to “defund the police” still gripping many cities. Law professor Paul Cassell dubbed this connection the “Minneapolis effect,” paralleling the “Ferguson effect” that linked 2014’s anti-police protests with a spike in homicides. This time around, the protests and policy response were magnified a hundredfold as activists pushed and municipal leaders considered “defunding” police departments altogether.
Charles Fain Lehman is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.
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