For New Yorkers, the idea of a return to the 1990s, a period of high crime, cold in the back. However, the spectrum of this era of violent has emerged in recent days in the local press and in conversations.
At 13 July, the number of shootings had reached 634 since the beginning of the year, compared to 394 at the same time in 2019. This is the first time since 2016, the threshold of 400 was exceeded in the middle of the year. During the long weekend of July 4, Independence day american, 64 people have been hit by bullets. And, the weekend after, 53 others have been, including 4 fatally. Among them, a child of 1 year, killed at a barbecue in Brooklyn. In June, 205 shootings have taken place, the highest level recorded for that month since 1996. The number of killings has also increased by 21 % (to 174) in the first half compared to the same period in 2019.
A smaller budget for the police
The reasons for this explosion of violence divide elected representatives, association leaders and experts. Christopher Herrmann, a former NYPD (New York Police Department) and professor of police sciences at the university's John Jay reminds us that the summer is traditionally marked by an increase in criminal activity in New York. However, the trend observed since the beginning of the year. "The figures were very low. They could only increase, " he says. For him, several factors explain the large number of shootings in July. Starting with the constant circulation of firearms in the city, yet considered one of the safest big cities in the United States, and the déconfinement progressive, which makes the possibility of settlements of accounts more frequent.
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He also points to the impact of the protests Black Lives Matter against police violence, which continues in New York. In the processions, the demonstrators are calling, in particular to reduce the police budget. What they have achieved. The envelope allocated to the NYPD has been cut a billion dollars (on a total budget of 6 billion), and the chief of the police announced, in June, the dismantling of a unit that specializes in tracking down illegal weapons, and violent crimes. Today, several voices within the police force to criticize this decision. Other measures are reported, such as the recent release of some detained because Covid-19, and the relief of conditions of release on bail passed by the State of New York several months ago.
Christopher Herrmann also emphasizes the impact of the current climate on the morale of the police, sick of the Covid in the hundreds. "They do not feel supported by the political leaders and are afraid to make arrests, to finish in a media," he said. At the same time, the mayor removes promotions of new recruits and a record number of agents decides to retire. This is not a good scenario, neither for the city nor for the police. "
Coronavirus and racism : the "storm" perfect
This opinion is not shared by all. Several local elected officials accuse the NYPD to slow down voluntarily the timing of interventions. Others, such as the representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a figure of the left wing of the democratic Party, have blamed the increase in shootings to the "economic despair" caused by the health crisis, in New York and in other american cities. These acts of violence are concentrated in poor neighborhoods, largely populated by racial minorities. The latter were more vulnerable to the virus than the white population.
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In June, the city has decided to allocate an additional $ 10 million to the initiative Cure Violence, which combines several associations of local volunteers, often former gang members, are involved in high-risk neighbourhoods to chat with the locals and to prevent acts of violence related to firearms. An approach that has demonstrated its effectiveness in the Big Apple.
K. Bain, one of the founders of this system and president of the association Community Capacity Development, speaks of a "perfect storm" with the virus and systemic racism. "When you combine racism, history, institutions and the police, which is crystallized in the death of George Floyd, a pandemic, which has revealed economic disparities and access to health care, the vase is overflowing," he said. K. Bain did not think that the current upsurge of violence will mark a return to the 1990s – this year-2 245 murders were recorded. But it does little illusions about the magnitude of the work. "For this to change, it is necessary to create economic opportunities for African-Americans. For the moment, we have looked at the american dream from afar. "