Analysis: Cities’ Crime Hike During Pandemic Shows Widening Racial Disparity



Some of the nation’s largest cities have undergone a widening racial crime disparity during the coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post reported.

The news outlet’s analysis of 27 cities showed the rolling rate of violent crime in majority-white neighborhoods fell by 30% while stay-at-home orders were in effect, dipping to its lowest point in two years.

Once the orders were lifted, violent crime in those neighborhoods returned to pre-pandemic levels, but stayed below average when compared with 2018 and 2019.

In majority-Black neighborhoods, the rate of violence remained relatively steady while stay-at-home orders were in effect, but rose dramatically after orders were lifted, peaking at 133 crimes per 100,000 residents in July, the highest level in the past three years, the Post reported.

Though crime in white and Black neighborhoods historically spikes in summer, this year the rate of increase in Black neighborhoods has been most dramatic, peaking higher than 2018 and 2019 by about 10 and 8% respectively, the Post reported.

Violent crime rates in predominantly Asian, Hispanic and white neighborhoods have been beneath their recent summer peaks, the Post said its analysis showed.

According to the Post, in St. Louis, at least 17 children have died violently this year, a shocking tally that underscored a widening racial crime disparity in that city — and reflects a gulf in the rate of violence between Black and white communities that widened by 106% in some big cities.

Victrail Mora, 14, shot in the back of the head near the steps to his mother’s apartment on Aug. 12 was one of them.

“They are taking kids’ lives right and left. It’s disgusting,” his aunt, Deanna Mora told the Post.

“I’m going to be honest with you. I live in fear of living in St. Louis. I feel trapped. … They took a big chunk out of me by taking him.”

The Post said its analysis looked at more than 800,000 crimes in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia and Seattle, using data from police departments and merging geocoded reports with neighborhood income and demographic data from the U.S. census.

According to the Post, its analysis found that crime rates dropped in March after stay-at-home orders were imposed to combat the pandemic. Rates flattened in April, but when orders began to lift in May, violent crime rose in majority-Black neighborhoods, surging past levels in 2018 and 2019.

“There’s not just one pattern that’s really leading to divergent trends in cities,” Patrick Sharkey, a Princeton University professor and criminologist, told the Post.

“You have the lockdowns and then you have the response to the George Floyd incident and the proliferation of demonstrations against police brutality and racial justice, and the resulting response from police departments.”

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