We’ve been repeatedly assured over the last two years that there is no such thing as a Ferguson Effect, that Black Lives Matter couldn’t possibly be contributing to a higher homicide rate.
We’ve also been assured that it’s all very complicated and it will take years to disentangle.
Also, the homicide spike isn’t at all national, it’s just in a few cities like Baltimore and Chicago.
As I point out below, the latest Chicago surge in murders began in January 2016, immediately after or coinciding with four BLM-driven triumphs of liberalism over the Chicago Police Department from late November 2015 to early January 2016.
But Chicago is murky compared to Baltimore, where the current high rate of homicides can be dated to April 27, 2015, the day of the BLM riot over Freddie Gray’s death. This may be the single most clear-cut case in the history of social science.
Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore cop and now an associate professor at John Jay College, created the graph above. From his blog Cop in the Hood:
September 4, 2017
… I went back to a one-year moving average, split on April 27, 2015, the day of the Baltimore riots. (Pre-riot takes the average from preceding year; post-riot from the year following.) What I’m trying to highlight, in an honest way, is the large spike in murders and shooting immediately after the riots and Mosby’s decision to bring flimsy criminal charges against six Baltimore City police officers. Unlike other crimes, shootings and homicides are reported quite accurately. …
The riots were a big deal, but nobody died. More important to policing and public safety was what happened after the riots. Nobody was holding the tiller. The department was basically leaderless. The mayor had been almost in hiding. Then Mosby made the biggest mistake of all. She criminal charged six officers for doing their job — legally chasing and arresting a man running from an active drug corner (this man, Freddie Gray, then died in the police van and that led to riots). Mosby got no convictions because she had no case. She couldn’t prove a crime, much less culpability. She would later say, “I think the message has been sent.”
Police got the message: if you do your job and somebody dies, you might face murder charges. Activists and Baltimore’s leaders pushed a police-are-the-problem narrative. Police were instructed — both by city leaders and then in the odd DOJ report city leaders asked for — to be less proactive since such policing will disproportionately affect minorities.
Few seem to care that minorities are disproportionately affected by the rise in murder. Regardless, police were told to back off and end quality-of-life policing. So police did.
But, unlike the arrest-’em-all strategy formulated by former Mayor O’Malley (which worked at reducing crime a little) discretionary enforcement of low-level offenses targeting high-risk offenders reduced violence a lot. It also sent a proper message to non-criminals that your block and your stoop were not going to be surrendered to the bad boys of the hood.
Of course these efforts will disproportionately affected blacks. In a city where more than 90 percent of the murderers and murder victims are black, effective anti-violence policing will disproportionately affected blacks (Of course, bad policing will, too). The rough edges of the square can be sanded down, but this is a square that cannot be circled.
Reformers wanted an end to loitering and trespass arrests. Corner clearing basically came to a stop. Add to this other factors — fewer police officers, the suspension of one-person patrol units, poor leadership — and voilà: more violent criminals committing more violent crime.
Murders and shooting increased literally overnight, and dramatically so.
Of course this took the police-are-the-problem crowd by surprise. By their calculations, police doing less, particularly in black neighborhoods, would result in less harm to blacks.
And indeed, arrests went way down. So did stops. So did complaints against policing. Even police-involved shootings are down. Everything is down! Shame about the murders and robberies, though. Initially this crime jump was denied.
Now we’re supposed to think it’s just the new normal for a city in “transition.”
How about this narrative: police and policing matter; and despite all the flaws in policing at a systemic and individual level, police and policing are still more good than bad, especially for society’s most at risk. There is no reason to believe that the path to better policing much pass through a Marxist-like stage of “progressive reform” before improving. We pay police, in part, to confront violent criminals in neighborhoods where more than 20 percent of all men are murdered.
We owe this to those, all of those, who live there. To abdicate police protection in the name of social justice in morally wrong.
And lest you think this rise in crime is only a problem in Baltimore, be aware that over the past three years, homicide is up dramatically in America, almost everywhere. Not just Baltimore and Chicago. Unprecedentedly so, in fact.