Left-wing writer says progressive politicians downplay crime surge, ignore citizens’ pleas for help


Journalist Zaid Jilani (pictured) argued that progressive leaders are downplaying the nationwide crime surge in a recent essay for The Atlantic 

A liberal journalist has accused progressive lawmakers who support defunding the police of downplaying America’s recent spike in violent crime and ignoring their own constituents’ please for practical solutions in order to protect their political agendas.  

In an essay published last Tuesday in The Atlantic, freelance journalist Zaid Jilani, a self-proclaimed progressive, argued that Americans should not be forced to accept this rise in ‘violence and suffering’, noting that many believe police are ‘vital’ in anti-crime response.

While many progressives are outraged about police brutality, Jilani stated that most Americans in major cities are more worried about the surge in violence than defunding the police.

However, he asserted that left-leaning leaders are downplaying the nation’s crime rates because they fear ‘rising anxiety about crime’ would ‘fuel support’ for policies they oppose.

Jilani cited a recent comment by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D – New York) as evidence for his argument, saying she told citizens that they shouldn’t let reports of violent crime evoke fear. 

‘We are seeing these headlines about percentage increases,’ Ocasio-Cortez said. ‘Now, I want to say that any amount of harm is unacceptable and too much, but I also want to make sure that this hysteria, you know, that this doesn’t drive a hysteria, and that we look at these numbers in context so that we can make responsible decisions about what to allocate in that context.’

He went on to argue that lawmakers like Ocasio-Cortez are blatantly ignoring the public’s plea for more police protection. 

Jilani’s claims echoed a number of recent polls which showed that the majority of residents in America’s biggest cities do not want to defund the police and in fact would like to see more officers on the ground.  

He argues that left-leaning leaders like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York (pictured: NYPD investigating shooting on August 1, 2021) are downplaying the nation's crime rates because they fear 'rising anxiety about crime' would 'fuel support' for policies they oppose

He argues that left-leaning leaders like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York (pictured: NYPD investigating shooting on August 1, 2021) are downplaying the nation’s crime rates because they fear ‘rising anxiety about crime’ would ‘fuel support’ for policies they oppose

Jilani cites the April 2021 death of Mahmood Ansari (pictured) who was robbed and stabbed to death while working at his souvenir store in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He claims area residents requested more police protection ahead of Ansari's death but did not receive it

Jilani cites the April 2021 death of Mahmood Ansari (pictured) who was robbed and stabbed to death while working at his souvenir store in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He claims area residents requested more police protection ahead of Ansari’s death but did not receive it

Jilani referenced the death of Mahmood Ansari, who was robbed and stabbed to death while working at his souvenir store in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in early April, as an example of political downplaying. 

Rizwan Malik, a friend of Ansari, told Ansari that he and several other business owners begged city leaders for more police protection in the weeks ahead of Ansari’s death due to a flood of robberies in the area, however that request was reportedly unfulfilled.

‘If they were doing something about it, [Ansari] would maybe be alive,’ Malik said. 

‘I’m sure that many progressives don’t buy the argument that quality policing is essential to controlling violent crime, but many voters do,’ Jilani wrote in his essay, resounding Malik’s claim.

‘Progressive politicians who do want to address this rise in violence sometimes worry about their ideological credentials being called into question if they embrace additional policing.’

According to Democratic politician Sal Albanese, who formerly represented Southern Brooklyn in the New York City Council, the current political climate makes it hard to address policing.

‘I think it’s a litmus test. You can’t talk about policing, otherwise you’re considered, I guess, non-progressive,’ Albanese told Jilani.

Former Senator Vincent Fort (D-Ga.) echoed Albanese’s claim saying: ‘Progressives have to be full-throated and have to be very … outspoken on these issues.

‘We cannot allow the right wing, the police unions, and others to intimidate us into being either quiet on this issue or not pushing on the policy changes that are needed.’ 

Democratic politician Sal Albanese told Jilani that the current political climate makes it hard to address policing: I think it's a litmus test. You can't talk about policing, otherwise you're considered, I guess, non-progressive'  (photographed: Homicide in Atlantic City, NJ)

Democratic politician Sal Albanese told Jilani that the current political climate makes it hard to address policing: I think it’s a litmus test. You can’t talk about policing, otherwise you’re considered, I guess, non-progressive’  (photographed: Homicide in Atlantic City, NJ)

Fort believes addressing the nation’s crime surge is ‘both a strategic and moral imperative for progressives’.

This is evidenced by progressive leaders’ quick response to downplay crime rates, Jilani argued, citing an article by The Guardian asserting that ‘police and politicians routinely share misleading, out-of-context crime statistics to advance their agendas’.

According to The Guardian piece: ‘Americans overall are much less likely to be killed today than they were in the 1990s’.

Jilani said that while that may be true, ‘it’s just as true that violent crime is a real crisis in certain places—harming certain communities—right now’.

Chicago recorded 774 murders in 2020, according to the Chicago Sun Times, an increase of more than 50 percent from the previous year. The overall number of shootings in the city also skyrocketed, rising from 2,120 in 2019 to 3,237 in 2020.

University of Chicago Crime Analyst John Roman told Jilani that last year the city saw ‘the largest increase in violence we’ve seen since 1960, when we started collecting formal crime statistics’.

Los Angeles reported a 36 percent increase in homicides per capita from 2019 to 2020, with rates rising from 258 to 350. The city also saw an increased number of shootings reporting 946 in 2019 and 1,138 in 2020. However, overall, city-wide crimes decreased.

New York City reported a record-low for overall crime in 2020, however still saw a 44.8 percent rise in murder, a 41.7 percent rise in burglary and a 66.7 percent rise in grand larceny autos.

Unlike NYC, Atlanta, which has already released some crime statistics for this year, is seeing an overall increase in all citywide crime. As of May 2021, the city has already reported more murders and shootings than in 2020 and 2019. 

University of Chicago crime analysts report that in 2020 the city saw 'the largest increase in violence [they have] seen since 1960, when we started collecting formal crime statistics'

University of Chicago crime analysts report that in 2020 the city saw ‘the largest increase in violence we’ve seen since 1960, when we started collecting formal crime statistics’

While citywide crime decreased overall in Los Angeles in 2020, the city reported an increase in homicides and shootings

While citywide crime decreased overall in Los Angeles in 2020, the city reported an increase in homicides and shootings

New York City reported a record-low for overall crime in 2020, however still saw a 44.8 percent rise in murder, a 41.7 percent rise in burglary and a 66.7 percent rise in grand larceny autos

New York City reported a record-low for overall crime in 2020, however still saw a 44.8 percent rise in murder, a 41.7 percent rise in burglary and a 66.7 percent rise in grand larceny autos

Atlanta, which has already released some crime statistics for this year, is seeing an overall increase in all citywide crime. As of May 2021, the city has already reported more murders and shootings than in 2020 and 2019

Atlanta, which has already released some crime statistics for this year, is seeing an overall increase in all citywide crime. As of May 2021, the city has already reported more murders and shootings than in 2020 and 2019

Similarly, according to the FBI’s preliminary uniform crime report for 2020, which includes data from the first half of the year, the United States saw an overall decline in the number of violent crimes and property crimes reported for the first six months of 2020 when compared to data from the first six months of 2019.

The report indicates that violent crime decreased in three of the four regions of the nation. It in the Northeast, Midwest and the West by 4.8 percent, 1.8 percent and 1.1 percent respectively. Violent crime increased in the South by 2.5 percent.

Property crime decreased in all four regions of the country, decreasing by 10.3 percent in the Midwest, 9.3 percent in the South, 5.7 percent in the Northeast and 5.3 percent in the West.

On the contrary, the US saw a rise in murders in 2020. According to NPR, the final nationwide murder update indicted an increase in murder by 36.7 percent.

With the number of homicides spiking in several communities, analysts predict the final crime statistics for 2020 will reveal a ‘startlingly grim story,’ New Orleans-based data consultant Jeff Asher told the news outlet.

With the number of homicides spiking in several communities, analysts predict the final overall crime report for 2020 will reveal a 'startlingly grim story'

With the number of homicides spiking in several communities, analysts predict the final overall crime report for 2020 will reveal a ‘startlingly grim story’

The US saw a rise in murders in 2020 with the final nationwide murder update indicting an increase of 36.7 percent

The US saw a rise in murders in 2020 with the final nationwide murder update indicting an increase of 36.7 percent

Nationally, the U.S. has seen a decline in violent and property crimes over the last 30 years

Nationally, the U.S. has seen a decline in violent and property crimes over the last 30 years

Nationally, the US has seen a decline in violent and property crimes over the last 30 years. The most recent full-year crime report, revealing statistics for 2019, showed that fell by 1 percent and property crime by 4.5 percent from 2018.

However, the murder rate continued to rise with a 0.3 percent increase. The FBI estimates the number of murders in the U.S. in 2019 to be 16,452. This was a 3.4 percent increase from 2015 and an 11.6 percent increase from 2010.

‘Even if the levels of violence return to pre-2020 levels, that would hardly be an accomplishment,’ Jilani concluded. ‘We’ve simply come to accept a level of violence in this country that much of the rest of the world — from poor, developing countries such as Vietnam to wealthy nations such as the United Kingdom — can’t even imagine.’

‘Ignoring that level of human suffering is hardly progressive, and it isn’t hysterical to say so.’ 

He also notes that residents of America’s most violent cities, value the role that police play in making their community safer.

Jilani’s statement echoed the results of a USA Today and the Detroit Free Press poll published earlier this month revealing that about 90 percent of residents of Detroit, where crime rates are typically high, actually want more cops. 

While the 'defund the police' movement has gained popularity in the past year, Jilani argues that most Americans, value the role that police play in making their community safer

While the ‘defund the police’ movement has gained popularity in the past year, Jilani argues that most Americans, value the role that police play in making their community safer

The Detroit poll, conducted by phone from July 13 to July 17, included responses from 500 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. 

According to the poll, about 75 percent of respondents rejected the progressive slogan ‘defund the police’ and only 33 percent of respondents said Motor City cops use force when it’s unnecessary. 

Most Detroit residents, 58 percent, rated local cops as ‘mediocre or worse’ – but 80 percent also said they would still ask them for help if they needed it. 

Both the poll and Jilani’s article come as President Joe Biden met at the White House on July 12 with urban leaders about increased shootings

While trying to balance his strong backing for law enforcement with the police reform movement championed by many of his supporters, Biden announced new efforts to stem the tide of violence.

His plan focuses on providing funding to cities that need more police, offering community support and cracking down on gun violence and illegal firearms.

‘We know when we utilize trusted community members and encourage more community policing, we can intervene before the violence erupts,’ Biden said. 

Biden has been clear that he is opposed to the ‘defund the police’ movement, which has been effectively used against Democrats to paint them as anti-law enforcement.



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