This past week New Orleans reclaimed the title of America’s deadliest city after seeing murders jump 141% over the last couple of years. In New Orleans, the murder rate is a staggering 52 per 100,000 people. That compares to the national average of 6.9, the highest it’s been in a quarter century, and the 50 per 100,000 in Venezuela, the most dangerous country in the world.
If New Orleans were an outlier, it would be a shame; the fact that it’s not is a tragedy. Instead, New York, Chicago, Portland, LA, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and other American cities are part of the club. Crime has been up across America over the last two years, in most cases dramatically.
We’ve always had crime in America—such is the price of freedom—but what we are experiencing today is something altogether different. It’s not just crime. America can sometimes be a dangerous place. Everyone knows working the midnight shift at a convenience store is riskier than working the day shift at your local library, just as common sense tells you the odds of getting into a fight in a bar on a Saturday night are far higher than at church on Sunday morning.
And to be clear, this is not Antifa thugs and BLM cultists burning down cities. Protest, even violent protest, has been part of American history since its founding and is mainly event-driven, like Shay’s Rebellion, the Vietnam War protests, the riots after MLK’s assassination, or the acquittal of the police in the Rodney King video.
No, this is something different. It’s one thing to rage against the machine; it’s another to commit violence against citizens, particularly when they are unsuspecting innocents or compliant victims. This is today’s issue, which we see taking place across the county, from urban jungles like New York City to Midwestern communities like Salt Lake City.
What America’s experiencing today is exponentially worse than the typical crime that America is used to—and the truth is, young Black men and, increasingly, young Black women are perpetuating most, although far from all, of it.
Violence is not only going to a new level in terms of frequency but also its locales. It’s no longer limited to dark corners or deserted parking lots. It now occurs in the middle of the regular hustle and bustle of Americans’ daily lives. It’s taking place in broad daylight, in full view of video cameras—often with others videoing the carnage to share on social media. Violent crime occurs on Main Street USA, in schools, drugstores, fast food restaurants, subway platforms, high-end retail stores and, of course, homes.
We see large groups of young people blitzing stores, grabbing merchandise off shelves, and running out with smiles on their faces. We see “shoplifters” methodically clear store shelves of merchandise and simply stroll out the door, unconcerned about getting stopped or arrested and often assaulting employees along the way.
Moreover, an element of violence seems unprecedented in its scale. Almost daily, we see random innocent people on subways or stairs or in restaurants getting shoved, kicked, or punched. We see fast food workers attacked as customers come over or around counters and spark mayhem. We see bus drivers attacked, shop owners beaten, and cops spat upon. Indeed we see countless instances where robbers beat or shoot victims even after taking whatever they were after. We also read daily of innocents of all ages killed in the crossfire while sleeping in their beds, standing in a bar, or sitting in their cars.