The U.S. murder rate rose 30% between 2019 and 2020, according to FBI data – the largest annual increase on record, with Chicago topping the list. At least 12 major cities, including New York, have already set historical murder records in 2021. Robberies and assaults are also on the rise, and retailers in major cities across the country are reporting an uptick in organized smash-and-grab crimes during the busy holiday shopping season.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot faced criticism last week after she responded to the recent flood of robberies in her city by blaming retailers for not better protecting their merchandise.
“We also got to push retailers,” she said during a Dec. 6 event. “I’m disappointed that they are not doing more to take safety and make it a priority. For example, we still have retailers that won’t institute plans like having security officers in their stores, making sure that they’ve got cameras that are actually operational, locking up their merchandise at night. Chaining high-end bags, these purses seem to be something that is attracting a lot of attention on these organized retail theft units.”
Lightfoot’s comments were blasted by retailers as misinformed.
In New York City, one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s last acts as mayor before he hands over the reins to Mayor-elect Eric Adams is instituting a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private businesses in the city, claiming it’s his “job” to “protect” New Yorkers.
The mandate gave businesses only three weeks to comply before it goes into effect on Dec. 27, just four days before de Blasio leaves office.
During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend, de Blasio defended the mandate and claimed the city is “much safer” now than it was when he took the reins eight years ago, despite the fact that murders in the city skyrocketed last year and have remained high so far in 2021.
“Eight years I’ve been mayor, index crimes, major crimes in New York City down 11% over eight years. And we did it bringing police and community closer together,” the mayor said. “The bottom line is that there is today in New York City, a much safer city than we were eight years ago.”
“I have confidence and the NYPD has confidence that we’re going to get back to the prepandemic levels soon, and then surpass, and become even safer,” he added. “And the statistics show it in most of the city; there are a few places where we’re struggling.”
In Philadelphia, where police have reported a 13% increase in homicides compared to 2020, District Attorney Larry Krasner sparked a backlash this week after he claimed the city does not have a crime problem.
“We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence,” the district attorney told reporters Monday. “It’s important that we don’t let this become mushy and bleed into the notion that there is some kind of big spike in crime. There isn’t. There is not a big spike in crime. … There is not a big spike in violent crime. Neither one of these things is true.”
Krasner later walked back his comments but fell short of making an apology or changing his remarks.
“I know that some inarticulate things I said earlier this week have offended people. The message conveyed through media sound bites is not at all what I meant,” Krasner said Thursday. “Complete answers based on data aimed at solutions to gun violence will be edited down to sound bites. It’s my job to make sure even those sound bites are careful. As someone whose strong support is owed in part to the fact that I don’t communicate or make decisions like a career politician, it is my obligation to do better.”
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon also recently came under fire amid a surge in violent smash-and-grab robberies in his city. Critics blamed Gascon’s zero-bail policies for releasing 14 suspects who were allegedly involved in 11 smash-and-grab robberies last month hours after their arrest.
Gascon defended himself during a press conference last week, blasting what he described as “fearmongering and misinformation” regarding crime in L.A. County, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Fox News’ Adam Sabes and Paul Best contributed to this report.