The nation experienced a resurgence of violence in the last year, fueling Republicans’ chances of reclaiming its majority in Congress in 2022, according to an analyst on CNN.
“Republicans can turn rising crime into a culture war wedge issue,” said John Avlon Thursday on “New Day,” CNN’s morning show. “And as we turn the corner into summer, which is usual increase in violence crime, public safety is again front and center in people’s minds after decades of declines.”
“Democrats are going to have to deal with it or risk political backlash,” said Avlon, who hosts the show’s “Reality Check” feature.
Avlon covered something the media regularly ignore: The fact that law-abiding people have increasingly become targets in their streets, their communities, and their own homes — and so have law enforcement officers.
“Major American cities saw a stunning 33 percent increase in murder last year,” he said. He asked viewers to contrast that “with the steep and then steady murder decline America saw between 1991 and 2014.”
The violence is far from over, he warned. “The spike in homicides and assaults continued in the first quarter of this year. Not only that, the number of police officers who have been shot in the line of duty stand at 141 as of May 16, and 24 officer fatalities this year is the most year to date since 2018.”
That merely scratches the surface of America’s intensifying war with itself. National Public Radio recently reported:
At the end of 2020, Chicago police reported more than 750 murders, a jump of more than 50% compared with 2019. By mid-December, Los Angeles saw a 30% increase over the previous year with 322 homicides. There were 437 homicides in New York City by Dec. 20, nearly 40% more than the previous year.
Avlon told his viewers, “You’d be forgiven for asking, what the hell is going on here?”
He blamed a “perfect storm” of factors, including “the prevalence of guns” but also economic contractions brought on by the COVID-19 lockdowns that have lingered into this year in some areas. He also cited “the release of criminal defendants due to COVID concerns in jail” — although many of these were not “defendants” but prisoners with records of such crimes as sexual offenses and murder.
Avlon also blamed expanded crime on “the overall reallocation of police resources,” that is, defunding the police.
“Los Angeles recently changed course after cutting its police department by $150 million last July,” he said. “Now its mayor is proposing increased funding after a 38 percent spike in murders last year.”
He did not mention the riots associated with “mostly peaceful protests” held by Black Lives Matter, which may have inflicted $2 billion in property damage and claimed dozens of lives, including retired African American policeman David Dorn.
Avlon’s report itself could have made history as one of CNN’s rare references to violence, aside from its perpetual focus on the 100-year-old Tulsa Massacre.
This week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson highlighted the spike in violence which began last May, but he dismissed the notion that COVID-19 accounted for it. He noted that crime fell in nations around the world, including Canada, the U.K., Sweden, and Russia.
“Even in Mexico, there were fewer homicides in 2020 than there were in 2019. So, for normal countries — pretty much all countries — the pandemic meant more Netflix, but less killing,” he said on Thursday night.
“Not here. In the United States, the opposite happened,” he said. “A lot of Netflix, even more killing.”
He said the difference is that, in the U.S., “… the Democratic Party took full control of the country, and their policies resulted in a huge number of killings.”
Avlon may be the only person situated to point out these uncomfortable facts on CNN. Avlon, a centrist who helped launch the “No Labels” movement, previously served as former speechwriter and policy adviser to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani’s famously tough-on-crime policies caused crime to fall in New York City after years of increase under Democratic Mayor David Dinkins.
“New York City has been transformed from the nation’s crime capital to the safest large city in the United States. As a result, New Yorkers in every neighborhood feel safer in their homes and in their communities,” said Giuliani in 1998.
Murders fell by 60% during Giuliani’s tenure in office, 1993 to 2001.
His son, Andrew, has announced he is running for governor of New York against incumbent Andrew Cuomo.
This article has been revised to specify that Avlon’s comments were made on Thursday.