Last week, a dozen sledgehammer-wielding assailants targeted a California jewelry store.
Two weeks ago, several young men targeted a high-end Washington, D.C. optical store, making off with $17,000 in Gucci eyewear and more.
Recently, a suspect lifted nearly two dozen baby tortoises in Stockton, California.
Smash-and-grabs are one aspect of the wave of theft and violence sweeping the nation.
Two weeks ago, 54-year-old Pamela Thomas was killed by a stray bullet while riding in the backseat of a car in D.C.
She was taking her eight-year-old son — seated beside her — to a birthday party.
In Atlanta last month, six-month-old Grayson Fleming was shot and killed by crossfire between two people in broad daylight.
Americans are right to be alarmed by these stories of rising crime.
The fear of widespread crime shatters our belief that we increasingly don’t live in a safe society. An all-time-high 74% of New York City residents say rising crime is a “very serious problem.”
Nationally, rising crime is on par with inflation as a top concern for 88% of voters.
Yet, the prevailing counter-narrative is that crime isn’t as bad as it was 30 years ago.
For example, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University opined that “the numbers have been frightening: a 30 percent jump in killings in 2020, and a further increase of 16 percent in the first half of 2021” but “that homicide rates across the United States have stayed far below their peaks in the 1980s and early 1990s, and about the same as what they were in the early 2000s.”
In other words, stay calm and go about your business as usual.
Yet, the randomness of crimes places citizens of every age, race, and socio-economic class at risk: a Barnard College freshman, a construction worker on a job site, and an elderly Memphis grandmother.
There are at least a couple of problems with the left’s narrative.
First, murders are not just concentrated in major coastal cities; they are rising in the heartland too. Manhattan Institute’s Raphael Mangual debunked the claim that crime isn’t as bad as it was in the 1990s for a long list of American cities. “Philadelphia just shattered its all-time annual homicide record with a full month remaining in 2021, as have Louisville, Ky.; Indianapolis; Columbus, Ohio; Austin, Texas; Tucson, Ariz.; St. Paul, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Fayetteville, N.C.
“Other cities, like Cincinnati; Trenton, N.J.; Memphis, Tenn.; Milwaukee; Kansas City, Mo.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Denver; Cleveland; Jackson, Miss.; Wichita, Kan.; Greensboro, N.C.; Lansing, Mich.; and Colorado Springs, Colo., saw their highest homicide tallies since 1990 last year.”
In addition, the narrative wreaks of defeatism. “Rising crime is our new normal, we just have to accept it.”
We should not accept a violent crime wave as the new normal.
No mother should have to accept stray bullets as normal.
No parent should have to wonder whether their college kid will be randomly killed on a subway train. No business owner should have to accept that a hammer may shatter her peace at any moment.
I hosted a powerful conversation for Black History Month with three female leaders in the community about what’s driving this violence today: Sylvia Bennett-Stone, founder and national director of Voices of Black Mothers United, a project of the Woodson Center; Karen Alston, Founder and President of The Spectrum Circle; and Denisha Merriweather, Founder of Black Minds Matter.
They also explained that we cannot accept this state of rising crime as a new normal because the social and economic impacts will set back the Black community.
They pointed to several factors: the glorification of crime and violence in entertainment and music, a lack of guidance from parents and mentors, and mental health.
They implored celebrities, athletes, and other influencers to discourage young people from engaging in destructive behaviors.
They urged parents, families, and communities to make the personal investment of time and wisdom to guide our young people toward better pathways.
There’s an obvious role for the government.
Public safety is one of the primary responsibilities of the state, and we expect the government at every level to execute its duties.
We expect our elected officials to work with law enforcement to crack down on violence.
We also expect laws to both punish wrongdoing and deter future crime as well as officers of the court — such as state and district attorneys —to prosecute crimes.
It is asinine for a member of Congress to attribute rising theft to down-on-their-luck parents stealing baby formula because the child tax credit “ran out.”
Even White House press secretary Jen Psaki laughed off coverage of rising crime on cable networks claiming that “People care more about what’s happening in their lives than what’s necessarily happening in every cable news chyron every day.”
What Psaki misses is that a two-minute news story for her is 24-hour life for many people —particularly in poor, working-class, and minority neighborhoods. Americans care, especially those residing in areas where crime is exploding. Our government should too.