Tuesday Night Owls: Surge of gun violence added to the traumas of 2020

Tuesday Night Owls: Surge of gun violence added to the traumas of 2020

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

22 DAYS UNTIL JOE BIDEN AND KAMALA HARRIS TAKE THE OATH OF OFFICE

Champe Barton, Brian Freskos, and Daniel Nass at The Trace write—A Historic Surge in Gun Violence Compounds the Traumas of 2020In over a dozen cities, homicides rose by 50 percent or more this year. “It’s very likely that these increases are larger than any on record,” said one criminologist:

 From Oakland to Chicago to New York City, homicides and shootings crept toward — and sometimes exceeded — all-time highs. The sudden upswing reversed decades of progress, and provides a prism for the intersecting crises that characterized 2020. While researchers are still picking over the causes, the consequences of the violence are plain: Thousands of communities, families, and parents like Foster forced to manage terrible voids — and saddled with the knowledge that at any moment, more gunfire could tear open new ones.

Meanwhile, other types of crime such as burglary, larceny, and drug offenses declined across the country.

While nearly every type of gun violence spiked this year, mass shootings showed a particularly steep increase. In spite of the social isolation imposed by the pandemic, the number of shootings with four or more victims exceeded any recent year by more than 50 percent. […]

Many city leaders see more law enforcement as a balm for the killing. Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee, and Kansas City, Missouri, accepted millions in federal grants through a Trump administration initiative to beef up local police departments, and many other city police departments have used the uptick as justification for inflating their budgets.

But this year’s police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd undercut the idea that increased policing makes communities safer. A national movement to defund police departments and redirect money to a robust social safety net emerged, and cities like Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, and Seattle announced plans to slash police department budgets and steer the savings toward social services and community programs.

The increase in murders is “exactly why we made the changes to the police budget that we decided to make,” said Austin City Councilman Gregorio Casar, who successfully pushed this year for $150 million in cuts to the local police budget. “We need to change our budget to treat the economic and public health disaster that we’re dealing with.”[…]

THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READING

TOP COMMENTS • RESCUED DIARIES 

QUOTATION

By far the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it.” Eliezer Yudkowsky, Rationality: From AI to Zombies (2015)

TWEET OF THE DAY

It’s pretty awesome how dancing makes robots less intimidating. Looking forward to seeing more nontrivial Machine Learning on these robots. Credit: Boston Dynamics. pic.twitter.com/wnB2i9qhdQ

— Reza Zadeh (@Reza_Zadeh) December 29, 2020

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2012—Michigan Republicans brag about their hard work trampling democracy and cutting corporate taxes:

Michigan state House Republicans are bragging about all the great stuff they’ve accomplished over the past two years, and it makes for … instructive reading. “The Michigan House Republicans kept their promises to the people of Michigan,” they begin, “delivering results when the state was in crisis and staying true to the guiding principles they laid out shortly after being elected into the majority.”

Those guiding principles include “lead responsibly in all our endeavors, making state government answerable to the public and respectful of its wishes.” Yet the long list of things Michigan House Republicans are bragging about includes the anti-union law rammed through during the lame duck session over massive protest, and very much against the wishes of the public.

Other things Michigan Republicans are proud of include “provid[ing] better job security for Michigan’s best teachers through nation-leading teacher tenure reform.” That would be their doublespeak for ending the provision that firing or demoting a teacher require “reasonable and just cause,” downgrading teacher job security to allow them to be fired for anything short of “arbitrary and capricious” reasons. In addition to making it easier for administrators to fire teachers for almost-arbitrary reasons, Michigan Republicans are proud to have “expand[ed] school choice and cyber school opportunities.” Cyber schools are a big failure, with one study finding that just 30 percent of them meet minimum progress standards under No Child Left Behind, compared with 54.9 percent of regular schools.

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