search
Sections List
American Journal News

Fact check: GOP misleads in effort to blame Democrats for increased homicides

The effort to blame Democrats for crime may offer a preview of Republicans’ strategy for upcoming elections.

By Associated Press - June 10, 2021
Share
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

“SKYROCKETING MURDER RATES,” claimed the National Fraternal Order of Police. “An explosion of violent crime,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Democrat-run cities across the country who cut funding for police have seen increases in crime,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

On social media and in political speeches, some Republicans and pro-police groups say last year’s calls to slash spending on law enforcement have led to a dramatic rise in killings in cities overseen by Democrats.

The increases they cite are real, and several big cities did make cuts to police spending. But the reductions were mostly modest, and the same big increases in homicides are being seen nationwide — even in cities that increased police spending. At the same time, the rates for burglaries, drug offenses, and many other types of crime are down in many cities across the country.

The effort to blame Democrats for crime may offer a preview of Republicans’ strategy for upcoming elections: a new twist on an old “law and order” argument from the party’s past, harkening back to President Richard Nixon.

Just as it did half a century ago, the argument ignores the complicated reasons for fluctuations in crime rates — a list that today includes the upheaval wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and protests that erupted after the killing of George Floyd by police.

“2020 was just a crazy complicated year where lots of things happened, and there are lots of potential explanations for why we saw these big changes,” said David Abrams, a University of Pennsylvania Law School professor, who tracks crime rates and is studying the impact of the pandemic. The bottom line? “It’s complicated.”

Late last month, the National Fraternal Order of Police posted a graphic on social media showing big increases in the homicide rate in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon — all cities currently led by Democrats. “The leadership in all of these cities turned the keys over to the ‘Defund the Police’ mob,” the post read.

The numbers in it were alarming: Homicides in Chicago, up by 22% through late May compared with the same period last year. In Minneapolis, homicides were up by 56%; in Portland, 800%.

Top Republicans have taken up the claim, too.

“Look at what’s happening where they’re defunding the police,” former President Donald Trump said Saturday at the North Carolina GOP convention, echoing an argument he made on the campaign trail last year. “The crime rate is going up by 50, 60, 100%, 131% in one city.”

Killings have been on the rise since 2020, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story about reductions in police spending or a troubling increase in homicides being seen throughout the country.

Last year in Minneapolis, city officials shifted $8 million — less than 5% of the police budget — to programs focused on community mental health and violence prevention. In February, they approved $6.4 million to hire new police officers after an unprecedented number of officers retired or went on extended medical leave following Floyd’s killing.

In Portland, homicides were up from six in the first five months of 2020 to 38 in the first five months of 2021, according to city police data, a more than 530% increase. That’s lower than the 800% increase claimed by the Fraternal Order of Police, which said it was based on homicides through May 25.

The city, a center of defund police efforts, trimmed its police budget last year by less than 4%, far short of the $50 million in cuts sought by activists.

This year, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, has sought greater funds for programs targeting gun violence, which he said is a national problem. “It has reached crisis proportions,” he said in March.

Los Angeles and Chicago have also seen double-digit increases in their homicide rates this year, and they did reduce spending on police. Chicago cut its police budget by 3%, largely by eliminating vacant positions. Los Angeles reduced spending on police by about 5% overall.

Yet homicide rates are also increasing in cities that didn’t cut spending.

In Houston, a city led by a Democratic mayor, killings have increased, but so, too, has funding for police.

Nashville, Tennessee, also led by a Democratic mayor, increased the police budget but has seen homicides spike 50% so far this year over last.

Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Fresno, California, have also seen more killings so far in 2021. Both cities have Republican mayors.

Meanwhile, other types of crime are down, according to preliminary statistics and researchers who say crime initially dropped around the world after the pandemic began. While cities are reporting jumps in their homicide rate, there’s been no similar increase in other crimes, like burglaries, robberies or drug offenses.

That’s not what you’d expect if calls to defund the police were leading to a rash of crime, Abrams said.

“Any theory explaining the rise in homicides would also have to explain why we haven’t seen a spike in other kinds of crimes,” he said.

So why are killings up?

Economic losses and personal stress brought on by the pandemic are one suggestion. COVID-19 also disrupted in-person education and many community programs designed to quell violence. It put a strain on police departments, hospitals, courts and other institutions tasked with dealing with the impact of crime.

Other possibilities include rising gun ownership and the protests over police killings that could have emboldened criminals. Then there are the host of factors that contribute to localized violence, including gangs, drugs and poverty.

James Alan Fox, a criminologist and professor at Boston’s Northeastern University, said small changes to a police budget, or the party affiliation of a particular mayor, aren’t likely to play a big role. Some violence fluctuations are part of long-standing problems.

“It’s not related to which party is ruling,” Fox said. “But you can win a lot of votes by pushing fear.”

Nixon used a similar argument in his successful 1968 presidential campaign, arguing that protests over civil rights “have torn 300 cities apart.” The strategy helped galvanize support among white voters concerned about racial integration, according to Elizabeth Hinton, a Yale Law School professor who studies the history of criminalization in America.

Now, just as then, misleading claims about crime seem designed to exploit racism among white voters while ignoring the real reasons behind the increase in homicides, she said.

“Instead of linking this to COVID and mass unemployment and general anxiety, they’re saying that somehow calls to defund the police are behind this, as a way to justify more policing as a response,” Hinton said.


Read More
AJ News
Latest
Ted Cruz leverages Trump conviction on podcast for own personal gain

Ted Cruz leverages Trump conviction on podcast for own personal gain

By Jesse Valentine - June 11, 2024
Arizona Republican Kari Lake proposes massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare

Arizona Republican Kari Lake proposes massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare

By Jesse Valentine - June 10, 2024
Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Hung Cao says workplace diversity is ‘Marxism’

Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Hung Cao says workplace diversity is ‘Marxism’

By Jesse Valentine - June 06, 2024
Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

By Jesse Valentine - May 24, 2024
What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

By Chabeli Carrazana and Shefali Luthra - May 22, 2024
Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

By Jesse Valentine - May 21, 2024
Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector - May 21, 2024
House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

By Jesse Valentine - May 14, 2024
Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

By Jesse Valentine - May 09, 2024
Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

By Jesse Valentine - May 07, 2024
Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - April 30, 2024
Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

By Jesse Valentine - April 30, 2024
Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - April 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

By Jesse Valentine - April 15, 2024
GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

By Jesse Valentine - March 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

By Jesse Valentine - March 08, 2024
Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

By Jesse Valentine - March 07, 2024
Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

By Jesse Valentine - March 04, 2024
Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

By Jesse Valentine - February 26, 2024
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
U.S. Supreme Court overturns ban on bump stocks used in Las Vegas mass shooting

U.S. Supreme Court overturns ban on bump stocks used in Las Vegas mass shooting

By Ariana Figueroa, Pennsylvania Capital Star - June 14, 2024
As a Texas city debates an abortion “travel ban,” maternal care is scarce in nearby rural counties

As a Texas city debates an abortion “travel ban,” maternal care is scarce in nearby rural counties

By Jayme Lozano Carver, The Texas Tribune - June 14, 2024
Lt. Gov. Robinson touts end of DEI as LGBTQ+ advocates seek protections, equity

Lt. Gov. Robinson touts end of DEI as LGBTQ+ advocates seek protections, equity

By Ahmed Jallow, NC Newsline - June 13, 2024
U.S. Supreme Court allows access to abortion pill, unanimously rejecting Texas challenge

U.S. Supreme Court allows access to abortion pill, unanimously rejecting Texas challenge

By Eleanor Klibanoff, Texas Tribune and Karen Brooks Harper, The Texas Tribune - June 13, 2024
Judge strikes down Florida gender-affirming care restrictions for minors and adults

Judge strikes down Florida gender-affirming care restrictions for minors and adults

By Orion Rummler, Louisiana Illuminator - June 12, 2024