A great many reactions flowed in after my post earlier this week on crime patterns in Minneapolis since the George Floyd tumult exploded last year.
Some too-cool-for-school Brooklyn journalists argued that it was shameful “copaganda” for me to even quote police officers in the post, and that I was engaging in risible “stenography” by doing so. There might be something to this critique if all I had done was parrot official police press releases, or rehash the fine-tuned statements of an official police spokesperson — but that’s not what I did. Instead, I got the unvarnished perspectives of police officers which otherwise would not be relayed to the public.
The idea that cops’ views should not even be represented in journalistic accounts of the cities they patrol is self-evidently ridiculous, and “representing their views” doesn’t mean endorsing those views, or asserting that they should be accepted uncritically. In the post, I even went out of my way to caution that “their theories for complex multi-causal phenomena obviously should not be taken as gospel.” That doesn’t somehow render their perspectives journalistically irrelevant, though.
I don’t know whether the massive, unprecedented year-over-year nationwide surge in homicides in 2020 is attributable to political/cultural dynamics stemming from the outbreak of protests and riots last summer, as most cops seem to strongly believe. But it’s at least plausible as a contributing factor. (Of course COVID also had to play some role.) Either way, that this belief is widespread among police officers is a fact worth knowing.
Moreover, whiny media activists seem to think there’s something inherently suspicious or reactionary about reporting on violent crime trends. This is very odd. Not only did homicides hugely spike in 2020, but numerous jurisdictions broke all-time records — one being Milwaukee, WI, where homicides increased by 101% in 2020 compared to 2019. And even after last year’s giant increase, many cities (like Minneapolis) are on pace to break all-time records in 2021:
Philadelphia, PA is on pace for a record-breaking year of homicides, after coming just one shy of the all-time record in 2020. As of April 29, homicides are up 36% year-over-year.
Portland, OR is on pace for a record-breaking year of homicides, after recording the highest total in 26 years in 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, homicides increased year-over-year by 733%. (Yes, you read that right.)
Columbus, OH is on pace for another record-breaking year of homicides, after breaking its all-time record in 2020. Homicides have already doubled in April year-over-year.
Albuquerque, NM is on pace for a record-breaking year of homicides, which are up 79% in April year-over-year.
Indianapolis, IN is on pace for another record-breaking year of homicides, after breaking its all-time record in 2020. Homicides are up 33% in April year-over-year.
Other cities on pace for another record-breaking year of homicides, after already having broken their previous records in 2020, include:
This is just a tiny sampling, but it should be obvious that something extremely sociologically significant is underway as much of the country reverts to early 1990s levels of peak homicides — with many cities greatly surpassing those peaks. It’s odd for national journalists to be so antagonistic about covering such an important trend (local journalists are usually better about it), and the only viable explanation for their hostility is that this reporting in some way undermines their ideological imperatives.
Other reactions to the Minneapolis post, namely from local residents, were more positive. This comment left on the post is very much worth reading. (By the way, you have to be a paid Substack subscriber to comment):
The commenter elaborated to me over email:
To follow up on my comment on your previous article, when I saw those two men attempt to pull a woman from her car, she got away so I never called the cops. Had this happened in 2018, I would have been on the phone with the cops while I witnessed the situation. After the riots last year, at least according to some people online, 911 had delays for weeks. Tons of cops left the force, and the city was under the charter’s requirement for minimum number of police. A group of people in North Minneapolis sued the city for this. As you noted in your article, even with violent crimes, we barely had enough cops to handle the murders. So assaults, or near-carjackings, and things like that, it didn’t even seem worth the phone call. They didn’t have the bandwidth to do anything about it. So I am sure that those stats do not give the full picture.
Having lived through the past year with a young child, I wonder all the time if it is stupid to stay in this city. Carjackings are commonplace and the murder rate is out of control. And, as one neighbor put it, it feels like the whole city has PTSD. Usually the Spring in Minneapolis is an exciting time (you can imagine why with our winters) but it feels a little ominous this year. I keep wondering if we are going to repeat last summer.
My husband would be ostracized at his job if he was associated with anything but the standard liberal narrative on this, and there’s a chance I would too. If you want to stay employed and you don’t align with mainstream liberal takes on almost everything, it’s best to keep quiet and hope no one calls you out for it. In his words, “There’s too much risk.” He said we shouldn’t talk to journalists about this. We have a young kid and just want to make a living.
I also heard from a member of the Minnesota National Guard who was deployed to a crime-heavy part of the city during the Derek Chauvin trial. Here’s a lightly-edited and condensed transcript of an interview I did with him:
GUARDSMAN: You’re interacting with a lot of people who are interested to see you there — because all of a sudden, there’s a soldier, right. There’s a bunch of soldiers in their neighborhood. And for the most part, I would tell you, there were a lot of very positive interactions. At one point, I talked to my soldiers on this one, and I said: “Yeah, I would say for every person that drives by flipping us off, or yelling at us — eight or nine people are stopping and thanking us.” And one of the guys kind of corrects me and is like, “I would say, it’s probably 14 to 15.” Those are just kind of rough estimates.
Across racial lines, there were a lot of messages of support. I had some guy identify himself as a gang member. And he pointed out that he had respect for us, but definitely not the police.
We worked pretty closely with the law enforcement officers and they said burglary essentially dropped to zero while we were around. But all that has a cost, right? It costs a lot to deploy the National Guard. Obviously, that can’t be a permanent solution. You can’t have National Guard just standing around forever.
People did come up to me and say, this is the first time I’ve felt safe in my neighborhood in a year. Obviously, that’s anecdotal. But I think for a lot of people, seeing us there — it was something that could put their mind at ease, at least for the time that we’re there.
One of the officers I was talking to, I think it’s out there in the news anyway. But I think he said, they’re down something like 200 police officers. And if you think about the logistics of what being down 200 people in any organization could potentially do to it — think about all the veterancy, the people who have been doing it for years. And now they’re not. It’s gonna be tough in my opinion for that police department to regain that experience and manning. I don’t know the pace at which they can replace that lost manpower, but it can’t be that quick.
One of the things that they said was, it’s probably not worth it to enforce these low level crimes any more, right? Because you do it and you’re gonna be on somebody’s social media, and somebody is going to edit that. So, there’s sort of that, it seems like — taking a step back.
I can’t tell you that I haven’t thought about moving. Now every day, it’s in the back of my mind — maybe it’s time to go. You know, some of these neighborhoods — there are places I used to go, and you look at them now, and probably between COVID-19 and the rioting — you can tell some of the neighborhoods, they just seem like they’re in decline.
You know, I’ve been doing this for a long time — the military. And I can tell you, this was one of the more rewarding missions. Just from the point of view of people coming up and telling us that we’re making their lives better. If only briefly.
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