Correspondent in Washington
The second year of the pandemic brought to the United States a wave of crime as few are remembered. Chicago, the great capital of the American Midwest closed 2021 with 797 homicides, an absolute record since 1996, the highest number in the country. But that city is not the only one. Violent deaths are on the rise in Washington, the capital, and in almost every major metropolis in the country, something that has led not a few Democrats to distance themselves from calls to cut police departments after the 2020 racial protest for the death of George Floyd.
As early as the 1980s, Chicago was known as “The Beirut of the Lakes” due to its geographic location and scandalous crime rates.
In 2020, the mayor, Democrat Lori Lightfoot, proposed a cut in the funds dedicated to the police department of 80 million dollars for the fiscal year of 2021. By the end of that year, he changed the third and was asking the FBI and other police departments of the federal government to send him reinforcements before the very serious crime wave.
In Chicago of 2.7 million inhabitants, not only have these 797 people been violently killed, but there have also been 3,561 shootings in the streets. Far exceeds the crime rates of New York or Los Angeles, both with a much larger population. Washington, the capital, with a population of just 692,000 people, registered 227 homicides, 15% more than in 2020. These numbers have not been registered in 16 years.
The FBI published a report in September in which it concludes that with the pandemic, the homicide rate has increased by 30% throughout the US By states, the District of Columbia, the federal capital, exceeds with 24.4 homicides per 100,000 population to all others, followed by Mississippi, with 20.5, and Louisiana, with 19.9. In comparison, the homicide rate in the entire Community of Madrid is 0.5 people per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the INE.
In California, the great bastion of the Democrats in the US, crime has exploded in every major city, from San Diego in the south to San Fancisco in the north. There have been nearly 400 deaths in Los Angeles in all of 2021, according to police figures that are not yet final. That supposes that since 2019 the number of violent deaths has doubled in that metropolis of 3.9 million inhabitants.
The situation is so worrying that the White House has approved three major packages of executive measures to combat gun violence and has included a $ 5 billion budget in its social spending program to reduce the number of victims, who are often black or Hispanic. One of President Biden’s main concerns is the proliferation of “ghost guns,” that is, weapons that are not registered, that can sometimes be assembled at home, or that can be created or modified with 3D printers.
According Jen Psaki, Biden’s spokeswoman, the position of the White House is that the ease in the acquisition and possession of weapons is a decisive factor in the increase in crime and violent deaths. “We believe that a central factor in violence is the use of weapons. We are seeing it statistically in many areas. But he also believes that we must ensure that state and local governments have the police resources they need, “he says.
After George Floyd’s death, several left-wing Democrats, led by the deputy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow caucuses spread the slogan of “cutting back the police,” that is, depriving them of funds to prevent abuses by agents against racial minorities. It was a slogan of the 2020 racial protest.
Soon, the more moderate mayors and governors marked distances, as did Biden in campaign and later, when he arrived at the White House. In November, there was a referendum in Minneapolis, the city where Floyd died, on cutting back and reinventing its police force, but the ‘no’ won. In 2021, there were 95 deaths there, a record number since 1995.