Second, the claim that crime isn’t as bad as it was in the 1990s is no longer true for a long list of American cities, many of which have either surpassed or are currently flirting with that decade’s homicide tallies. Philadelphia just shattered its all-time annual homicide record with a full month remaining in 2021, as have Louisville, Ky.; Indianapolis; Columbus, Ohio; Austin, Texas; Tucson, Ariz.; St. Paul, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Fayetteville, N.C. Other cities, like Cincinnati; Trenton, N.J.; Memphis, Tenn.; Milwaukee; Kansas City, Mo.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Denver; Cleveland; Jackson, Miss.; Wichita, Kan.; Greensboro, N.C.; Lansing, Mich.; and Colorado Springs, Colo., saw their highest homicide tallies since 1990 last year.
Other cities flirting with their previous records include Shreveport, La.; Baltimore; Minneapolis; Rochester, N.Y.; and Tulsa, Okla. St. Louis didn’t surpass its highest tally in 2020, but owing to population decline it did set a new record homicide rate. Chicago, Seattle and Fort Worth, Texas, would all have to go back 25 years to see homicide tallies comparable to what they’re seeing now.
Shushing skeptics by pointing out that things aren’t as bad in the aggregate as they were 30 years ago invites an obvious question: So what?