What You Should Know

On September 27, the FBI confirmed that 2020 witnessed the largest single-year murder increase in modern American history. The total number of homicides jumped by nearly 30 percent, more than doubling the previous record of 12.7 percent, set in 1968.

Many U.S. cities saw murders spike by over 30 percent, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Fort Worth, Columbus, Indianapolis, Seattle, Denver, Boston, Portland, Ore., Memphis, Louisville, Milwaukee, Tucson, Fresno, Mesa, Atlanta, Omaha, Oakland, New Orleans, Cleveland, St. Louis, Buffalo, and others.

The surge of violence was not geographically isolated, but nationwide, with the most dramatic increase in murders beginning after the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

Floyd’s death ignited protests, deadly riots, and fierce condemnations of policing as discriminatory. All of this served to demoralize the men and women who serve in law enforcement, discourage proactive policing, and embolden criminals. The result was a more intense and far-reaching version of what happened in many U.S. cities after the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., or what happened in Baltimore after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray: a police pullback, followed by an explosion of murders and shootings.

Curbing the violence will require a revival of proactive policing and a rejection of policies that have undermined it. We must also refute the notion that most black Americans want less policing of their communities—a pernicious falsehood that has had disastrous consequences.