New analysis of FBI data revealed the devastating impact that defunding the police has had on black Americans who experienced a 32 percent spike in murder from 2019 to 2020 after the death of George Floyd “spurred an outpouring of contempt against the pillars of law and order.”
2020 was already fraught with challenges as Americans were faced with the unprecedented governmental response to the COVID pandemic. However, the death of Floyd in May is now being interpreted as the catalyst for the dramatic spike in violence that had been witnessed, at much lower levels, following similar publicized tragedies.
The Manhattan Institutes director of the policing and public safety initiative, Hannah Meyers, told Fox News Digital this was a prime example of what has been dubbed “The Ferguson Effect.”
“Certainly, the protests and riots mid-2020 after the death of George Floyd followed a pattern of spiking violence that we’ve seen following past viral police incidents, such as the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. This pattern has been termed the ‘Ferguson Effect’: police pull back while violent crime spikes precipitously,” she explained.
According to FBI data, after Michael Brown was fatally shot in 2014 by a police officer in Ferguson, MO and Freddie Gray had died in the back of a police van in Baltimore, MD in 2015, murders of black Americans spiked 15 percent, surpassing year total of 7,000 for the first time in the 2010s.
The resultant spike was sustained over the next few years as black Americans continued to experience murder at a rate of no less than 7,000 per year, but no more than 8,000 per year. By comparison, white murders remained 16 percent less when measured across the 10-year average.
St. Louis, MO Police Chief Sam Dotson coined the term “Ferguson Effect” in the wake of Brown’s death and it gained widespread notice when Heather Mac Donald, Meyer’s colleague from the Manhattan Institute, penned an op-ed about the Black Lives Matter movement’s claims cops were racist and homicidal that “produced virulent hostility in the streets.”
When black murders spiked from 7,484 in 2019 to nearly 10,000 in 2020, an effort was made to lay the blame on COVID fear. Georgia State University criminology professor Volkan Topalli told Politico in 2021, “Criminologists and public health people were saying that was going to be the case as soon as they heard about the pandemic.”
Topalli went on to say the pandemic revealed the differences of varied segments of society, “They’re just beneath the surface and the pandemic sort of, you know, as with a hurricane … has revealed the disparities.”
But Mac Donald pointed out, Floyd’s death “spurred an outpouring of contempt against the pillars of law and order that has no precedent in American history,” and then explained the murder spike “began months after lockdowns beginning only after riots” and was therefore “not at all related to COVID.”
Month by month comparison showed relatively typical rates leading into May of 2020 which saw a spike after Floyd’s death that continued to climb into July and counted 1,772 murders, far more than six previous Julys.
Unfortunately, the FBI will not be releasing 2021 crime data as their new voluntary National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) did not have enough participation. This hinders the ability to examine the continued influence of the defund the police movement, but evidence from 2020 still supports the claim.
“In NY, statewide changes to the bail laws that went into effect in 2020 prevented judges from holding a huge range of defendants in jail pre-trial and effectively prevented judges from considering dangerousness in the decision to set bail,” Meyers told Fox News. “The rate of felony re-offense among defendants out of jail pre-trial who would not have been out of jail prior to ‘bail reform’ has been estimated at 43%. That is a significant number.”
She also went on to question the merits of any claim that factored in the pandemic as a cause for spiking, “But were there more homicides in 2020 due to Covid-related hardships such as the need for food? Anecdotally, I don’t know of any such murders and I’m skeptical that this was a significant contributor to the enormous surge.”
“Generally speaking,” Manhattan Institute senior fellow Rafael Mangual said in testimony before the Senate in 2021, “more police means less crime. And just as people of color-particularly Black men-are disproportionately impacted by crime increases, they disproportionately benefit from crime declines.”
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