Why Are Murder Rates and Violence Rising in American Cities?

Why Are Murder Rates and Violence Rising in American Cities?

Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images
This is a stark reversal after a multiyear downtrend in violent crime. Why the change? And where is it leading?

Yesterday morning, Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, a police officer in Chicago, was chasing three suspects on foot—and they shot and killed him.

Just last Friday, Deputy Darren Goforth, a policeman in Houston, was gunned down from behind while gassing up his car.

Such sickening headlines are becoming like a steady drumbeat in our lives in America.

On Monday the New York Times reported, “Murder Rates Rising Sharply in Many U.S. Cities.” These figures have been falling for years—but suddenly, cities across America—at least 35 of them, according to a recent survey—are suffering a reversal in that trend, reporting increases in homicides, violent crimes or both. Among them:

  • Milwaukee experienced 86 murders in the whole of 2014. This year, with summer not yet over, there have already been 104.
  • In New Orleans, the first eight months of last year saw 98 murders. The same period this year saw 120.
  • Baltimore had 138 homicides through August last year. This year the number is 215.
  • Washington’s first eight months last year had 73; this year: 105
  • St. Louis through August 2014: 85 murders. This year: 136.
  • What is going on? Why the sudden increase in urban murders? The Times says, “[N]o one is claiming to know for sure.”

    Last Wednesday, a black man in Virginia, angry about what he considered racism, murdered two reporters on live television.

    The Washington Post took that opportunity to note: “We’re now averaging more than one mass shooting per day in 2015.” This article defines a “mass shooting” as an incident where at least four people are shot, including the gunman. America experienced 247 of them in just the first 238 days of 2015.

    Why is this happening?

    One Cause: Undermined Law Enforcement

    There are a number of contributing factors. One that cannot be ignored is what the Times article describes as “intense national scrutiny of the use of force by the police [which] has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals.”

    Yes, prominent voices in government—including the president—and the press have been accusing America’s law enforcement of endemic racism. They have said that this hate is deep-seated—even “part of our dna,” to use the president’s words—and must be exposed. They demand “justice” without specifying just what that means.

    Is it working?

    The Trumpet has forecast that these supposed solutions will aggravate the problems. The effects are now becoming clear: undermined police, energized criminals, intensified racial tension, increased hatred and violence.

    And beside lawbreakers filling the gap vacated by a weakened police force, we are also seeing an increase in people defying and even attacking the police themselves. Lt. Gliniewicz and Deputy Goforth were just the latest victims.

    Just hours after Goforth’s murder, a group of “black lives matter” protesters in Minnesota marched behind a group of police officers down a highway near the state fair grounds. They were chanting, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.”

    This is supposed to address and decrease racism in America?

    Seeking Racial ‘Justice’

    It makes me wonder: What exactly do the people agitating for racial justice want? What sort of justice are they talking about?

    The view has shoved its way into the mainstream that mass uprisings in the street, including rioting, looting and burning, are an understandable if not legitimate expression of justifiable, even righteous anger. That is extraordinary.

    Such thinking is absolutely toxic and perverse. The communities that are experiencing these uprisings—the cities whose businesses are being torched, ransacked and destroyed—are being victimized by this twisted pursuit of “justice.” Residents in areas where law and order is compromised are less safe and secure. Whole communities—many of them with non-white majorities—are becoming less livable.

    Still, on the more extreme fringe are voices insisting that violence is necessary to force revolution and change. Crowds are shouting, “We’re ready for war.”

    Would these people view the surge in urban murder rates with dismay?

    How many people would contend that the murder of Deputy Goforth was just? That it too was an outburst of righteous anger? I’m sure they’re out there.

    Here’s another question: Are the efforts of those who are supposedly seeking to right racial wrongs actually helping blacks and other minorities?

    Look at the rise in murder and violence in America’s cities. Who is suffering? In Milwaukee, of the 107 murders so far this year, 85 have been black people. Of the 223 murders in Baltimore this year, 200 have been black.

    Do the lives of those people matter?

    Again, I just have to wonder: Just what do those who are demanding justice really want?

    The calls for justice aren’t the sole cause for the rise in crime, by any means. But there is evidence that this inflammatory rhetoric is contributing to the problem—and no evidence that it is solving anything.

    Where to Find Real Solutions

    In his article “How to Solve America’s Race Problems,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry discussed a real solution. It is the solution that Jesus Christ advocated: forgiveness. Doing the hard work of trying to love one another.

    Now, however, there are voices essentially branding it racist to say that black people should forgive white people. (Here is one—from Salon.com: “Why America Needs to Reject the Charleston Massacre’s Dangerous Narrative of Forgiveness.” The article explains: “Well-intended forgiveness has been seized on by the media and those in power as an excuse to ignore white supremacy.”) That is lunacy.

    The point Mr. Flurry made is profound and irrefutably true: When we seek a Bible solution, we will achieve positive results—as was beautifully evidenced in Charleston. But when we seek our own solutions, contrary to Scripture, the results will be bad, and problems will proliferate. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

    Witnessing America’s growing unrest and violence, I have assumed that those calling for racial justice would disagree with the assertion that their proposed “solutions” are contributing to these problems. I have thought that they would deny any connection.

    But lately I have wondered how many of them would actually view these stories positively, in a twisted way—if they might not perceive rising violence and mayhem somehow as a step forward in the march toward the kind of “justice” they seek!

    Whether or not that is the case, it is certain that momentum is building. The tempo of these stories is quickening. And the more they happen, the more they feed on themselves. The trend is intensifying—to America’s great peril.

    Young Guns

    The Times article discusses other factors contributing to rising murder rates. Some cities are seeing an increase in gang activity. Some officials view gun proliferation as a major factor. “But more commonly,” the Times says, “many top police officials say they are seeing a growing willingness among disenchanted young men in poor neighborhoods to use violence to settle ordinary disputes. …

    “Capt. Mike Sack, a homicide commander in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, cited killings there that had grown out of arguments over girlfriends, food and even characters on a tv show.” Data and interviews in New Orleans and Milwaukee point to a similar conclusion: Young people are arguing over petty issues—and ending the arguments by riddling each other with bullets.

    Milwaukee’s mayor, Tom Barrett, said this: “I have to find a way for these young kids to understand that they have a stake in society.” As it is, these youths simply have no stake in it. They are detached and alone—unconcerned or unaware of their part in hastening America’s transformation into a jungle. Adrift, without guidance, without moral instruction, bereft of anything to anchor them or to point them toward a future with any hope, they are enslaved and tyrannized by their own savage emotions.

    What a frightening world these young people are growing up in. Milwaukee’s police chief said there is a “very harsh reality” at play here, “which is the mental calculation of those who live in that strata that it is more dangerous to get caught without their gun than to get caught with their gun.”

    For more and more people, this dismal survivalism is what passes for life in the United States today.

    That is a tragedy every bit as appalling and regrettable as the bodies filling the morgues in America’s cities.

    ‘Full of Bloody Crimes’

    We are witnessing the fulfillment of the prophecy of Ezekiel 7:23: “Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence.” This foretells a time when crime and violence in the end-time nations of Israel would be so prevalent that one crime would literally follow another like links in a chain. That is exactly where the U.S. finds itself today.

    We have brought it upon ourselves. By rejecting God, by refusing His solutions, by exalting our own perverse reasoning, by nurturing hate and division, by embracing lawlessness and sin, by dissolving our families and leaving our children to raise themselves—we have invited our own destruction.

    Read the rest of Ezekiel 7 to see how God is going to punish this nation. The curse of violence within our cities is only the start. It will intensify, and continue to deplete our strength and sap our will as a nation. It is going to weaken us to the point where we are susceptible to being taken over—as this prophecy warns—by hostile foreign powers. That is where this terrible trend is leading us.

    Is that the kind of justice we want? Because that is the kind of justice we are going to get.