by Holly Bailey and Tim Craig
May 30, 2021

Autumn Piper lights candles during a vigil honoring Marcus Wilson, one of two men who were killed in the Highlandtown neighborhood of Baltimore in April. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

As the nation marks Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer, many officials are concerned that this is a preview of what they could face in cities nationwide in coming months, when the onset of warm weather almost always marks a rise in violent crime. Some worry that the violence could be especially pronounced this season as Americans emerge back into society after a year of coronavirus-related shutdowns and restrictions.

Some experts have detected some promising signs in recent crime data. In New York City, more than 500 people have been shot this year — the highest number in a decade and up more than 50 percent over the same period in 2020. But Jeffrey Butts, director of the research and evaluation center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that percentage was better than the 158 percent increase in shootings reported last fall in the city, suggesting that the surge in violence, while still up, may be declining.

Still, Butts said that the factors that drove last year’s violence are unlikely to subside anytime soon, even as cities and states slowly loosen pandemic restrictions. Neighborhoods hit hard by job losses and other economic disparities are still likely to struggle, and the sense of alienation and anger that has been behind some of the violence is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon. “I worry about the generational effect,” Butts said, pointing to research about the lasting impact the crack epidemic had on residents of neighborhoods most affected by that era of violence. “We have a generation of adolescents who have been living through this, and especially if they live in a neighborhood where there was a lot of gunfire, who knows the lasting effect,” Butts said, adding that the trauma of the past year could be felt for “some time to come.”

[  read the article at the Washington Post  ]