Over the course of the past year, “defund the police” has been the mission and goal of social justice activists who want to reform the criminal justice system in the United States. Those of us with a little common sense know that this is a terrible idea that will actually do far more damage than good. After all, cutting funding to police means fewer officers on the streets and more freedom and time for criminals to do bad things.
The “defund the police” slogan has become a rallying cry after the death of George Floyd, which happened on May 25 of last year while in police custody in the city of Minneapolis. And the city itself has actually taken steps to partially defund police departments and proactive crime prevention programs, caving in to the demands of violent protesters.
However, ever since this happened, there has been a huge surge in violent crime, something two legal experts now refer to as the “Minneapolis Effect.”
According to a report from the Daily Signal, Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah, along with Lawrence Rosenthal, a law professor who teaches over at Chapman University in Orange, California, both laid out the case that the rise in crime is tied to the rhetoric and the actions taken after Floyd’s death and the in the aftermath of the violent protests that erupted right after.
“I got involved in this particular topic when I read headlines that I think many people read last summer,” the professor said. “We were seeing an alarming increase in homicides and shootings in many American cities.”
So what, exactly, is happening here?
“Cassell said that some explanations for the increase in violent crime aren’t likely. For instance, not many of the homicides actually took place at the protests and riots; they occurred in other areas,” the Daily Signal report said.
“So the crime increases aren’t just a result of the protests themselves. And when the protests and riots subsided, the higher homicide rates continued,” the report added.
Cassell went on to say that seasonal differences in the number of murders that have happened do not explain what’s going on. Warmer months tend to have more homicides, but the numbers experienced following the death of Floyd were “well in excess” of those usual fluctuations.
According to Cassell, increase in gun purchases, along with economic factors, also do not explain the sharp uptick in crime we’re seeing. Neither does the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most likely cause is the Minneapolis Effect.
“Here I think we have anti-police protests surrounding George Floyd’s killing. As a result, police had to be redeployed away from their normal beats and high crime areas to police the protests. And even extending beyond that, I think what we see has happened is a reduction in policing, particularly the kinds of policing that might be expected to have the most effect on homicides and shooting crimes,” Cassell said.
“Following the anti-police protests that occurred in Milwaukee as they did in many other cities around the country, police morale was low, officers began to pull back. We see that police departments in Milwaukee, or police officers in Milwaukee, were distracted or just not doing shooting reviews. They were often deployed to demonstration lines, so there was really a significant redeployment [of] police power in Milwaukee,” he continued.
“We can sometimes debate whether police officers make the difference. But when we’ve talking about things like homicides and shootings, police presence, stop and frisk, other proactive measures designed to take guns off the street—do in fact take some guns off the street, and do in fact reduce some homicides and shootings—and when that was changed beginning in the last week of May, the predicted empirical result would be an increase in homicides and shootings, Cassell added.
One possible explanation for the rise in criminal activity is due to the fact that police officers are afraid to show up to a person’s house or to some sort of disturbance call because they don’t want to have a similar experience to George Floyd.
Hard to blame them for that, right?
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