2020 was a very violent year as several cities in the country broke annual homicide records. Some experts attributed this increase in violence to the economic consequences of the pandemic, however, in this year 2021, despite the economic re-openings, homicides continue to rise sharply and in some major cities in the country, the numbers are chilling.
According to an ABC News report, a total of 12 cities—all led by Democratic mayors—reached an all-time high in annual homicides. Of the 12 cities, 5 broke the record set during last year.
Which cities broke their all-time annual homicide record?
Philadelphia, led by Jim Kenney, had an estimated 521 murders as of December 6, a 13% increase over 2020, when the 1990 record was nearly broken. As ABC rightly points out, this city has barely 1.5 million inhabitants and surpasses in murders the two largest cities in the country, New York (443 as of December 5) and Los Angeles (352 as of November 27).
Austin, the capital of Texas, led by Democrat Stephen Adler, saw its 1984 homicide record (59) shattered this 2021 with 88 murders through Dec. 6. Austin was one of the cities that cut police budgets the most this past summer in the wake of violent protests following the murder of George Floyd.
St. Paul (Minnesota), Portland (Oregon), Tucson (Arizona), Toledo (Ohio), Columbus (Ohio), Baton Rouge (Louisiana), Rochester (New York), Louisville (Kentucky), Indianapolis (Indiana), and Albuquerque (New Mexico) are the other ten cities that broke their all-time homicide records.
St. Paul had 35 murders this year, up from an annual homicide record of 34 in 1992. Portland had a record 71 homicides in 1987, this year it has already reached 80 murders, 59 of which were committed with firearms, a figure that makes the 1,100 shootings recorded in the city this year even more alarming.
Tucson broke the 2008 murder record (79) two months early, reaching 80 by the end of October. Toledo and Columbus, both Democratic cities in Ohio, hit the murder record (62 and 179 respectively) in November. Both cities had reached their previous records in 2020, so they have been mired in violence for two years.
Baton Rouge broke its record, also set in 2020, in October with 137 murders. The other two cities that broke their all-time records were Louisville and Indianapolis which with 175 and 246 murders, respectively.
Rochester’s highest annual homicide record was 69 in 1991. This year, three decades later, it surpassed 70 in November. Albuquerque has already reported 97 homicide victims during this 2021, completely burying the 2019 record of 82.
According to ABC News, other major cities have yet to surpass their all-time records but have had a year of violence just the same.
“Chicago, the country’s third-largest city, leads the nation with 739 homicides at the end of November, up 3% from 2020,” ABC reads. “Chicago’s deadliest year remains 1970, when there were 974 homicides.”
Likewise, cities such as Milwaukee and Minneapolis are close to breaking their all-time homicide records. Milwaukee’s most violent year was 2020, with 190 murders; this year it has 178. Minneapolis has 91 in 2021 and its record dates back to 1995 (97).
Among the causes for the increase in crime, according to the ABC report, are the socioeconomic problems left by the pandemic, the shortage of police personnel due to the growth of retirements and the inability to make new hires, the few arrests being made nationwide, among other factors that converge to keep murders in 2021 high and similar to the homicides of 2020.