In June, New York registered a dramatic increase in shootings, which generated alarm in the great American state. Last month, 39 people died in 205 shootings, which represents an increase of 130% over the same month last year.
It is the second consecutive month that the number of incidents like this hits the previous year’s records. Authorities relate to the crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic and the frustration caused by police violence.
The police say the increase is linked to new laws that prevent some detention practices – considered violent or arbitrary. Other sources estimate that an alleged deliberate slowdown in police action, in response to pressure from protests against the corporation’s abuses, would have contributed to the peak of violence.
One of the last shootings in New York City was filmed and went viral. A few seconds of images show the cruelty that the statistics do not reflect: like a man who walks holding his daughter by the hand, in the Bronx, is killed by a shot fired from a vehicle.
On Monday (6), “we saw in the videos a man who was walking with his six-year-old daughter when they killed him in front of her,” Rubén Díaz, president of the Bronx County, one of the districts most affected by the increase, told Efe of the shootings, near Brooklyn and the Harlem neighborhood (in northern Manhattan).
Poverty and coronavirus crisis
“We are in a coronavirus epidemic in which the courts are closed; we have had to release many of those imprisoned in Rikers Island prison and elsewhere due to illness; we have seen many images of the brutality by social media and video in the United States. this frustration, unemployment and the people who now take to the streets are also the ingredients of what is happening “, emphasizes Rubén Díaz.
But Díaz, who attended the birthday of a young man who was shot in the neck two weeks ago at a barbecue, insists that this violence is fueled by poverty in communities “where there is no opportunity, where there is no work, where there are no resources for health, for education “.
For this reason, he is convinced that investing in these areas can end this phenomenon: “We know that a young person who grows up in an environment where he receives opportunity, education, where his parents can work … he becomes an adult who don’t want to get involved in the life of the crime. “
The mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, for his part, considers that the current situation stems, “above all”, from the coronavirus crisis.
“The fact that so many people have nothing to do, that they have lost their jobs, that they have no school to attend, that there is great frustration, pain and trauma, that the judicial system is not working … these are really important factors here”, explained on Tuesday (7) at a news conference.
The police version
In addition to these factors, the Police Department strongly criticized several laws that veto certain police actions that are deemed disproportionate and dangerous and that were passed in response to the anti-racist Black Lives Matter movement, which occurred with impetus in the United States in the end May, in reaction to the murder of a black man, George Floyd, by a white policeman.
In New York, the arrest of suspects using a strangulation key or the practice known as “stop and search”, sometimes applied arbitrarily, has been prohibited.
New York Police Department chief Terence Monahan called these legal reforms, including cutting $ 1 billion in police budgets “insanity”, adding that there is “tremendous animosity” against the police and that “practically” everyone the police deal with during a prison “tries to fight” against them.
According to Monahan, police officers “are afraid” to end up in court if they use a restraint key during a prison, ‘while they are fighting for their lives’.
However, these police concerns are not shared either by De Blasio, who called the practice of imprisonment and punishment a “racist” and “failure” system, nor by the Bronx County President, who advocates the expulsion of “police evil” from the department and the continuity of training so that the police act in a “respectful” way.
“We want to remove crime from our streets, keep our communities safer, but we can do it in a way that we don’t have to accept police brutality, and we can invest in other areas that we know are also the cause of the crime,” emphasized Diaz.
The head of the New York Council’s Public Security Committee, Donovan Richard, accused the police of acting deliberately slow in favor of an increase in violence in order to hold recent legal measures accountable. The statement is rejected by police officials.
“There is a slowdown, to be sure, and the police are allowing it. We’ve seen in recent years what the police do when they want to keep shooting records low. Every year we’re breaking records, but now they’re not even trying to do it. that, “said Richard.
A national trend
However, this phenomenon is not unique to New York City, and with different nuances, it is being repeated in other large American cities, such as Chicago.
According to an analysis by The New York Times, the New York trend is repeated in many cities, where the increase in shootings and murders contrasts with a decrease in crime in general.
In the case of New York, according to data from the Police Department consulted by Efe, shootings and murders registered an unbridled increase, especially in May, when shootings increased by 63% and murders by 78.9%, compared to May of the year. last year.
Likewise, in June, there were 205 shootings – compared to 89 in June 2019 – and 39 murders compared to 30 in the same period last year.
In the two months, there was also a significant increase in thefts from private properties, mainly in June, where they doubled, from 817 to 1,783.
However, other crimes such as rapes, violent robberies and assaults have continued to record steady declines in the city that has recorded the lowest numbers of violence in recent decades for seven consecutive years.
In this regard, Bronx County President Rubén Díaz stressed the need to put this resurgence of violence into perspective and stressed that this year’s data should be compared with the record low violence data recorded in 2019 .
This makes any increase seem more than it is, something that does not happen in the city of Chicago, which in 2016, for example, registered one of its highest numbers of murders, with 778, compared with 336 committed in the same year in New York.