The early 2021 crime statistics are in and the news is not good. In almost every category, violent crime in urban America is rising.
On Tuesday, New York City’s comprehensive CompStat crime-monitoring system reported a 36 percent jump in March murders from the previous year. Shootings? A 77 percent increase over the previous year.
And it’s not “just” murders and shootings. In late March, drawing on CompStat data, the New York Post raised alarms about “a startling crime surge.” The paper noted a shocking weekly surge in crime data from March 22 to March 28. When compared to the same period last year, in addition to a rise in murders and shootings, rapes were up 125 percent, felony assault up 23 percent, auto theft up 42 percent, robberies up 9 percent.
That looks like the signal of a crime wave.
It’s not just New York. Drawing on local data, CNN recently reported that in Chicago, murders are up 33 percent for 2021, compared to the same period in 2020.
In Los Angeles, according to news reports, 64 people were murdered in the first two months of 2021, an increase of 39 percent over the same period in 2020. Gun violence was up sharply, with 570 reports of shots fired, an 88 percent jump from the previous year.
The troubling news comes as no surprise to Judicial Watch followers. We have repeatedly warned about rising crime in urban America. We’ve also pinpointed a major source of the problem: progressive policy changes.
A “radical criminal-justice reform movement” has succeeded in elections in cities around the country, notes the Manhattan Institute’s Rafael Mangual in the new issue of City Journal. The changes are sweeping: “everything from bail and pretrial discovery to pedestrian stops and ‘restorative’ diversion programs.”
The progressive prosecutor movement—electoral bids “often helped along by funding from left-wing billionaire George Soros,” Mangual notes—has been notching significant successes. “Cities with progressive prosecutors include Chicago (Kim Foxx), San Francisco (Chesa Boudin), Boston (Rachel Rollins), Philadelphia (Larry Krasner), and many others—including New York.”
New York often is a bell weather for change in urban America. That’s the case these days with issues of crime and punishment. And with the retirement of Cyrus Vance Jr., the influential post of Manhattan District Attorney—the second most powerful prosecuting office in the U.S. after the Justice Department—is up for grabs in June.
Manhattan is a Democratic Party stronghold and the June party primary will essentially decide the Manhattan DA election. The eight Democratic contenders range from center-left moderates to far-left apparatchiks with no prosecutorial experience. There is no front runner.
“In an era of unrest and cries for social justice,” noted Daniel Alonso, a former senior Vance prosecutor writing in the Daily News, the eight candidates all embrace various forms of “progressive prosecutorial agendas — aiming to reduce the focus on incarceration in favor of more lenient alternatives, social services, and greater scrutiny of police officers.”
That’s a big gamble in an era of rising crime. New York—along with much of the rest of urban America—will soon see if the progressive prosecutor movement is a winning bet.
Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org
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