Nearly seven weeks have passed since George Floyd was killed on May 25 while in police custody. Viral video of his death sparked nationwide protests, civil unrest, and accelerated efforts for systemic, transformational changes to America’s criminal justice system.
But as Black Lives Matter-inspired calls to “defund the police” and “reimagine public safety” went mainstream, several major U.S. cities simultaneously experienced an increase in murders and gun violence.
Although it is not conclusive why homicide rates and shootings have soared in so many places, experts acknowledge several possible contributing factors in addition to the recent protests. Most cite the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused financial strain, record unemployment, and might have escalated domestic disputes related to stay-at-home orders. Others mention gang feuds, changes in pretrial detention, or a growing mistrust of police. Academics note that gun violence typically increases in the warmer, summer months. While some question whether cops are reluctant to do their jobs nowadays.