Philadelphia has seen over 500 homicides this year, the most in 60 years; shootings, which began surging last year, remain well above pre-2020 norms. As former mayor Michael Nutter (D.) put it in a blistering op-ed, “I’d like to ask Krasner: How many more Black and brown people, and others, would have to be gunned down in our streets daily to meet your definition of a ‘crisis’?”
Krasner’s comments, though, typify a rhetorical approach adopted by prominent politicians, think tanks, and the media amid a record surge in homicides across the country. Since murders began rising in the wake of last summer’s anti-police protests, progressives have sought to discount or otherwise wave away the spike and conspicuously avoided discussing the role of the diminished criminal justice system. This wariness reflects a progressive fear of “tough on crime” rhetoric but is likely to cost them electorally—if it has not already.
Many have followed Krasner’s approach, downplaying the surge as “just” a homicide spike. In June, for example, the Guardian published a “factcheck” of the “‘crime wave’’narrative police are pushing,” insisting that the increase was really only in murders and adding that “Americans overall are much less likely to be killed today than they were in the 1990s, and the homicide rate across big cities is still close to half what it was a quarter century ago.” A recent report from Democratic think tank Third Way similarly emphasized that “contrary to the media narrative, overall crime decreased in 2020 compared to 2019,” only belatedly noting the record increase in homicides and gun violence.