More than two-thirds of the 40 most populous U.S. cities saw more homicides last year than in 2020, CNN reports. Ten of those cities recorded more homicides in 2021 than any other year on record. Those are Philadelphia, Austin, Columbus, Indianapolis, Portland, Memphis, Louisville, Milwaukee, Albuquerque and Tucson, Arizona. Minneapolis tied its record homicide total, with 97 in the years 1997 and 2021. Homicides spiked in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and subsequent unrest across the nation. For many cities, the elevated rates of homicide continued into 2021, although the national increase for the year has been estimated at a much lower rate, a few percentage points.
Thomas Abt of the Council on Criminal Justice, attributed the spike to three major factors: the impact of COVID-19 on communities and first responders; fallout of social unrest after Floyd's murder; and the surge in gun sales since the pandemic started. These increases are not isolated to any region. One-year increases don't always portend a significant spike in crime. According to the 2020 Uniform Crime Report from the FBI, homicides rose thirty percent from 2019 to 2020, the largest single-year increase the agency has recorded. "The pandemic, like community gun violence, concentrates among the poorest and most disenfranchised people," Abt said. "So those communities are doubly impacted, not only by COVID-19, but by gun violence."