An epidemic of shootings in the United States

(New York) A week ago, New York City celebrated its first 24 hours without a single death attributed to COVID – 19 since 11 March. On the same day, she also observed a minute of silence for Davell Gardner Jr., who died in his stroller at the age of 1 when a stray bullet struck him in the stomach during a barbecue in Brooklyn.

Richard Hétu Richard Hétu

Special collaboration

The death of little Davell occurred a few days after another such tragedy, filmed this one. A father holding the hand of his 6-year-old daughter crosses a street in the Bronx in the late afternoon when a car approaches him. Shots are fired from the car. The man sags on the pavement after being hit in the chest. Panicking, her daughter leaves the scene at full speed, while the car and its occupants scurry in another direction. We will learn later that the victim was mistaken for another person.

These fatal shootings are not isolated cases. They are part of an outbreak of armed violence that has hit many American cities in recent weeks, including New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Washington and Minneapolis. Outbreak whose victims are almost all African-American and all too often minors.

Some are now talking about a “double epidemic”, that of COVID – 19 and the one that takes the form of these deadly shootings. Others speak of a “perfect storm”. Shootings and homicides tend to increase in major American cities in the summer. To this recurring phenomenon, two new factors must be added: the effects of the economic recession caused by the pandemic and the fallout from the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

These spin-offs include the decision of certain municipalities, including New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, to reduce the budget of their police service or to adopt reforms. In reaction, the police seem to resort to a zealous strike to express their dissatisfaction with the way they are treated by the public and elected officials.

Decrease in arrests

Each city faces different problems. The case of New York can nevertheless illustrate this strike of the presumed zeal. By mid-July, the total number of arrests had dropped by 62% over the previous four weeks compared to the same period last year, according to police data obtained by the New York Times . This decline was reflected in particular in the number of arrests for illegal possession of a firearm, down from 67%.

At the same time, the shots started to resound in New York. On July 5, the American metropolis deplored an increase of 53 % of the number of shootings compared to the same period last year. In Chicago, where at least 12 Miners died by gunshot this summer, the increase was at 46%. In Atlanta, where Secoriea Turner, 8-year-old girl, was killed during the Independence Day weekend, she settled in 20%.

“You shot and killed a baby,” outraged Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the day after the death of little Secoriea, which occurred near the parking lot where Rayshard Brooks, African-American, was killed by a white policeman, the 12 last June.


Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor of Atlanta

There are peaceful demonstrators everywhere in this city and in this country, and I applaud them […]. But these shootings worthy of the wild west must stop. They must stop.

Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor of Atlanta

His New York counterpart, Bill de Blasio, made the same speech last Thursday at a press conference held jointly with New York police chief Dermot Shea.

“The violence must stop. It is not acceptable, “he said, presenting a six-point plan to combat the shooting problem.

He did not accuse the police of carrying out a zealous strike. Others have done so, including the chairman of the city council’s public safety committee. “Currently, communities are being held hostage by police and criminals at the same time,” said Donavan Richards.

“Cowardly” elected officials

Certainly, the New York police chief is not always on the same wavelength as his boss, the mayor of New York. In private, he called “cowards” elected officials, including Bill de Blasio, who adopted and promulgated regulations last week allowing criminal prosecution of police officers using strangulation.


Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York

“They don't know what they're talking about,” said Dermot Shea when speaking to senior police officers in a video recording obtained by the Daily News from New York.

“I have nothing to say to them. But we are not going to let them destroy this city, “he added.

New York City has never witnessed such a division between its mayor and the head of the New York Police Department since Rudolph Giuliani fired William Bratton, whose exploits overshadowed him.

The outbreak of armed violence has also further tainted the already bad relations between Donald Trump and major American cities. In recent weeks, the President has threatened to deploy federal forces to Chicago, Seattle and Portland, among others, to restore “law and order”.

These cities “are like war zones,” he said recently, adding that they were all run by “left democrats.”

“We are not going to tolerate this. We are not going to tolerate this, “he repeated.

A few days later, federal agents in combat gear appeared on the streets of Portland, Oregon, causing outrage from local elected officials. Should those in Chicago or Atlanta expect such interventions on the streets of their city?