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When Andre Avery drives his commercial truck through Detroit, he keeps his gun close by.

Avery, 57, grew up in Motor City and is aware that homicides and shootings are on the rise, although before the pandemic they were on the decline in Detroit and elsewhere. Your gun is legal and you carry it with you to protect yourself.

“I’m extremely vigilant,” said Avery, who now lives in nearby Belleville. “I’m not in crowds. If something seems a little fishy, ​​I’m off.”

In this Dec.26, 2020 file photo, Rockford police and other law enforcement agencies investigate the scene of a shooting at a bowling alley in Rockford, Illinois. (Scott P. Yates / Rockford Register Star via AP)

In Detroit, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and even smaller Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Milwaukee, 2020 has been deadly not just because of the pandemic, but because gun violence is on the rise.

Authorities and some experts say there is no clear reason for the increase. Instead, they point to the social and economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 virus, public sentiment toward police following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody, and a historic shortage of jobs and resources in poorer communities as factors. taxpayers. It is happening in cities large and small, led by Democrats and Republicans.

Two years ago, Detroit had 261 homicides – the fewest in decades. That year there were about 750 non-fatal shootings in the city of more than 672,000.
In this Aug. 24 photo, a protester stands in a cloud of tear gas near a burning garbage truck in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Until the police shot Jacob Blake, the Kenosha dormitory community had not been greatly affected by the level of demonstrations that had been seen in nearby Milwaukee and Chicago since George Floyd’s death. (Photo by David Goldman / AP)

But with just a few days to go to 2020, homicides have already surpassed 300, while non-fatal shootings rose more than 50 percent to more than 1,124 through mid-December.

“I believe that the pandemic, COVID, has had a significant emotional impact on people across the country,” said Detroit Police Chief James Craig. “Individuals are not processing the way they handle disputes. Be it domestic, arguing, drug disputes, there is this quickness to use an illegal firearm.”

As of mid-December, some 7,000 firearms had been seized in Detroit, with more than 5,500 arrests for illegal weapons. There were 2,797 similar arrests last year.

In one weekend, Chicago saw seven people killed and 52 others injured in a series of shootings. It was the worst weekend of gun violence in Chicago so far this year, police said. (PENNSYLVANIA)

“I haven’t seen a peak like this. But when it’s happening in other cities, some smaller ones, what do we all have in common?” Mr. Craig said about the murders and shooting. “That’s when you start thinking about COVID.”

Washington, DC, a city of about 700,000 people, has seen more than 187 homicides this year, dwarfing last year’s total by more than 20. Among the most horrific: A 15-month-old baby was shot and killed in a gunshot.

“We are all fed up with the heinous crimes in our city,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser.

University of Pennsylvania economics professor David Abrams said crime began to rise in May and June when initial warrants were lifted in some states.

Looters flee a store in New York after more violence erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death. (AP)

Some people “may have been a little crazy,” Abrams said. “In late May, the murder of George Floyd led to protests and looting. That led to movements for police reform. Any of that could have affected individual behavior and also the police response to that.”

Calls for some cities to cut funding for police departments may have led some officers to take a less aggressive approach to policing, he added.

What the COVID-19 virus did was exacerbate all the frustration and anger that some black and brown communities were already dealing with, according to retired Michigan State University sociology professor Carl Taylor. The virus has killed more than 300,000 people throughout the country, with minority communities being the most affected.

“COVID has absolutely been the detonation of an eternal bomb that is exploding in many parts of our community,” he added.

Nowhere is that more true than within people’s homes. “The COVID crisis and economic shutdown are forcing people to live in their homes, creating conditions in which people are more volatile,” said Kim Foxx, chief prosecutor for Cook County, which includes Chicago. And the most jarring statistic illustrating that volatility is this: The number of home-related homicides in the nation’s third-largest city has risen more than 60 percent compared to last year.

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP)

President Donald Trump claimed that the rise in crime was somehow related to the massive protests over police brutality that hit the nation this year, but most of those protests were peaceful. Trump also claimed that crime was concentrated in cities controlled by Democrats, but there have also been spikes in cities controlled by Republicans. Federal agents and resources were invested in Detroit and other cities this summer to help local law enforcement control rising crime rates.

In early October, more homicides were recorded, 363 in philadelphia than the 356 committed in 2019. There were 354 murders In New York until October 11: 90 more than at the same time last year.
Between January 1 and November 5, there were 165 homicides in Milwaukee, the most since 1991. And in Chicago, after a three-year decline in homicide numbers, totals soared to 739 in mid-December compared to 475 at the same point last year.

Even smaller cities like Grand Rapids are suffering. As of mid-December, there were 35 homicides compared to 16 in all of 2019 and nine the year before. From January to October, non-fatal shootings topped 200 in the city, which is home to about 200,000 people. During the same period last year there were 131 non-fatal shootings.

“This year, is it because of COVID? The political polarization we’ve seen?” asked the sergeant. Dan Adams, spokesman for the Grand Rapids Police Department. “This year has been a year like no other. I don’t think you can pinpoint any ‘why.’

The same is true for other medium-sized cities. Last year, there were 18 homicides in Rockford, a city of about 170,000 people in northern Illinois. More than 30 have died so far this year, including three Saturdays in a bowling alley.

“As we come to the end of this very difficult year and look forward to this New Year, we know that this type of violence must stop,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.

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