The FBI has just released its Uniform Crime Report for 2020 and, as Dan O’Donnell reports, it shows that the left’s “Defund the Police” movement had devastating consequences in Wisconsin and across the country
September 29, 2021
Guest Perspective by Dan O’Donnell
For more than a year, liberal leaders and their media allies have been pushing the narrative that the dramatic rise in homicides last year was due almost entirely to the pandemic. Because so many people who were trapped in toxic relationships were suddenly trapped in their homes with their abusers, it was a tragic inevitability that the murder rate would go up.
It was beyond anyone’s control, and certainly wasn’t the fault of liberal policymakers who screamed “Defund the Police!” for six straight months.
Unsurprisingly, the FBI’s newly released 2020 Uniform Crime Report has thoroughly destroyed this lie and proven that the Defund the Police push was perhaps the most disastrous effort that local governments have ever undertaken.
Aggravated assaults in America rose by an estimated 12.4 percent, while the murder rate increased by a staggering 29.4 percent—the single largest year-over-year increase on record.
Interestingly, violent crimes did not peak in March, April, and May (the months in which most of America was actually locked down), but rather in the summer—after the death of George Floyd and subsequent nationwide move against policing in many major liberal cities.
In Milwaukee, which set an all-time record with 189 homicides (smashing the prior record set in 1991 by a full 14 percent), the corrupt and dysfunctional Fire and Police Commission voted to fire the effective law-and-order police chief, Alfonso Morales. A month later, Milwaukee’s aloof and incompetent mayor, Tom Barrett, proposed cutting 120 police officer positions from his 2021 city budget.
The predictable lawlessness on the streets drove a staggering 70.5 percent increase in Wisconsin’s homicide rate from 2019 to 2020. In 2020, just 7 percent of the murders were of spouses or significant others, while just 20 percent were domestic in nature (spouses, siblings, parents, children, etc.).
A full 80.5 percent of the victims had an unknown relationship to their killer or were acquaintances or strangers, indicating that the murders arose not because of tight living quarters during COVID lockdown, but rather because of drug or gang activity or arguments between people who are prone to violence and/or have extensive criminal records.
This trend held up nationwide as well, as just 7 percent of victims were spouses or significant others and approximately 15 percent could be classified as victims of domestic abuse homicide. 85 percent were either acquaintances with their killers, did not know them, or had an unknown relationship.
Again, this signifies that the spike in murders last year was most certainly not due to COVID-19 lockdowns, but rather the monthslong lawlessness allowed to fester on America’s streets in the wake of Floyd’s death.
In response to it, major cities—including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Portland, and Austin in addition to Milwaukee—defunded their police departments and the results were predictably disastrous. Portland saw a 530 percent increase in its murder rate. Austin saw a 74 percent rise. New York’s murder rate was 56 percent higher. Chicago’s rose by 54 percent.
With fewer officers on the street and those who remain all but discouraged from doing actual policing, the criminal element in nearly every major city was emboldened in a way that it never had been before.
Call it the “George Floyd Effect;” the devastating impact of governance by woke platitudes replacing actual leadership.
Tragically, this was exacerbated by dozens of states throwing open their prison doors and letting out tens of thousands of inmates in a naïve and dangerous effort to mitigate the spread of COVID. Wisconsin alone let out 1,600. Given that the most recent data from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections shows that the recidivism rate is approximately 31 percent, one could reasonably expect that about 480 of the prisoners Wisconsin set free last year committed another crime.
During a year in which prisons were emptied, police departments were defunded, and general lawlessness was celebrated as a form of protest, is it any wonder why the murder rate shot up so dramatically?
It wasn’t because of COVID lockdowns; those were merely a convenient scapegoat for the perpetual and inevitable failure of soft-on-crime liberalism.