A small sign of a return to normalcy seemed to peek through over the Fourth of July weekend as families gathered by the pool and barbecue to celebrate the birth of this great country. But in cities all over the nation, a surge of gun violence over the holiday weekend gave citizens a bitter taste of what life may be like if policymakers continue to bow to extreme demands to defund the police.
In Atlanta, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency and activated 1,000 National Guard members following an increase in shootings over the Fourth of July weekend that injured 31 people and killed five, including an 8-year-old girl. The number of shootings and murders in the city doubled this year compared to 2019 for the four-week period after Memorial Day, police data shows. This also comes, according to Kemp, after “weeks of violent crime and property destruction in the city of Atlanta.”
“We’re seeing the breakdown of public safety in our communities and Georgians are very concerned, and that’s why the governor had to take this decisive action to bring in the National Guard and restore order because it’s true, enough is enough,” Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler told Fox News. “The radical movement to defund the police is causing havoc and resulted in the death of a child. The time has come to strengthen our support for law enforcement and end this terrible experiment.”
Meanwhile, New York City turned into what the New York Daily News called “the Wild West” as violence erupted amid Independence Day celebrations, with a series of shootings killing at least nine and wounding 41 others. The first of a string of shootings came when a 20-year-old father was killed after getting into a disagreement with a friend in front of the victim’s home. Paramedics rushed the man to the nearby hospital, but it was too late.
The senseless murders were condemned by police unions and the NYPD, who blamed the tragedies on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson for recently passing an annual budget that shifted roughly $1 billion away from NYPD funding.
Following the senseless crime wave that hit the city, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea pointed to the increase in violence as a result of the get-out-of-jail-free cards many dangerous criminals received in an effort to decrease the population at Rikers Island earlier this year, echoing what LAAPOA reported on in our three-part “Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste” series.
“Look at the Rikers population of the last year … ask a sane person. It’s about half,” Shea told NY1. “Where is that other half right now? We’ve transplanted general population to the streets of New York City, and it’s extremely frustrating.”
The day after the holiday shootings, Robert Holden, a New York City Council member, took to social media to share similar thoughts. “Last night was a prime example of the damage defunding the police and all the other anti-police legislation that the New York City Council passed has done to this city,” he said. “Ten shootings last night, and the uncontrollable fireworks gave the impression of a war-torn city. This is what happens when elected officials don’t look past their own self-interests and appease a vocal minority of people who want complete lawlessness and anarchy.”
The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (NYC PBA) backed up Holden’s words with data from compstat.nypdonline.org, which shows a 204% increase in shootings from June to July. Similar eye-popping numbers can be seen around much of the country, with the Portland, Oregon, police reporting a 240% increase in shootings during the early stages of July, and Philadelphia seeing its greatest number of single-day shootings (23) in over seven years on July 6.
Los Angeles has been far from immune as well, with the LAPD reporting a 205% jump in homicides from the last week of May to the first week of June — and it’s only gotten worse since. According to the Los Angeles Times, 19 homicides occurred from June 21 to July 5 in Los Angeles, more than doubling the total from the same time last year. The rash of crime, on top of millions being stripped from the LAPD’s budget, has caused the department to investigate if that was why approximately 300 officers called out sick during the holiday weekend.
“All the illogical decisions being made in this state and country, from the release of thousands of dangerous inmates to department budgets being slashed without anyone taking a minute to consider the consequences, have resulted in a dangerous concoction that all of us in law enforcement have seen coming,” LAAPOA President Marshall McClain says. “Yet, after we’ve been stripped of our resources, seen thousands of hard-working officers lose their jobs and witnessed our entire profession be thrown under the bus, law enforcement officers are the first ones people call to solve this mess.”
Things appeared even grimmer in Chicago, where at least 72 people were shot — 15 fatally — from July 3 to 5, including a 7-year-old girl visiting her grandmother and the son of a Chicago P.D. sergeant, according to WLS-TV.
“When families should be celebrating, having a good time, spending time together, a 7-year-old girl was taken from us,” Chief of Detectives Fred Waller of the Chicago Police Department said at a news conference. “A 7-year-old girl who was here visiting her grandmother, visiting her family, and now she’s gone.”
The tragic death of the girl, Natalia Wallace, has made those in and around Chicago begin to already question what defunding the police could mean for the future of the country. Her father, Nathan Wallace, is among those calling for change, telling the Chicago Tribune that the area needs more police because of the violence, not less.
“How many tragedies have to happen before lawmakers and politicians admit they were wrong and that they should have never let a group of radicals make crucial decisions for them about policing?” says McClain. “We in law enforcement are now left picking up the pieces as we work day and night to protect our communities with limited supplies and mentally exhausted officers, in hopes that officials come to their senses and realize that law enforcement is the solution, not the problem.”