While we’ve all been captivated by the images of looting and pillaging taking place in dozens of American cities, off-camera, homicides have been soaring over the past week as police are expending almost all of their energies trying to quell civil unrest. As cops try to get a handle on the riots, criminals are taking full advantage.
Three additional forensic pathologists were called in Monday to handle an increased caseload of 35 autopsies, which is approximately 15 to 20 more than the normal amount of autopsies performed in one day.
“This is an unprecedented amount of homicides in one day for our office,” Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Ponni Arunkumar said in a statement. “The most I can recall in one day since I started here in 2003 is 10.”
The City of Brotherly Love has been anything but loving since the riots began, and there’s been a staggering increase in homicides and shootings over the past week in Philadelphia.
Apart from the looting and unrest that shook the city over the weekend came a barrage of violence that had been all too familiar: At least 31 people were shot over three days, including eight killed.
The shootings erupted across the city, from Southwest Philadelphia to East Germantown to Mantua and West Philadelphia. Four people were shot in one spot, three in another, two in a third. The victims ranged from age 12 to 52. According to police statistics, there have been 158 homicide victims in the city as of Sunday night, a 21% increase from the same period last year.
In Memphis, there were a half-dozen murders over Memorial Day weekend, and violence has continued unabated in the city ever since.
In between, the chants of ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ and ‘no justice, no peace’ and passionate pleas for more accountability, Memphis Police Deputy Chief Sam Hines asked the crowd of protestors on Union Avenue a question.
“We’ve had approximately 5 – 6 homicides over the Memorial Day weekend. Is anybody excited about stopping those?” he asked. “Is anybody excited about protesting against those individuals, those victims, those fathers, those sons and brothers who were killed?”
It’s the same question longtime community activist Stevie Moore asked himself.
Stevie Moore is an ex-felon who has served time in several penal institutions for selling drugs. He has successfully transformed his life and is now a local businessman, political consultant, and community activist.
“It’s frustrating to see a double standard,” Moore said. “Why can’t we see a killing as a killing? I’m tired of going to funerals. No one is saying that.”
According to the Memphis Police Department, there have been 87 homicides this year which is an increase compared to the same time last year when there were 72 homicides.
Most of these homicides aren’t directly related to the riots and protests, but there have been several murders reported around the country that can be blamed on riots, including the killing of 22-year old Italia Maria Kelley in Davenport, Iowa. Kelly’s younger sister took to social media to pin the murder on protesters.
“A protester shot my sister. It was not the police. Because of you, I lost my sister.”
Davenport, Iowa. (Two killed. Two others, including a police officer were also shot.) pic.twitter.com/k0NoNgRorw
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 2, 2020
In Las Vegas on Monday evening, a federal marshal was killed outside of the federal courthouse, while a federal protective services officer was murdered in Oakland, California over the weekend. On Monday night, four St. Louis, Missouri police officers were shot, though thankfully none of their injuries are life threatening.
Ironically, one of the goals of at least some of the protesters is to defund police departments. This past week has given us a fairly good idea of what would actually happen without a law enforcement presence in many neighborhoods. Crime doesn’t dissipate. It flourishes. Chaos, not calm, rules the streets. It’s become clear that stopping the riots isn’t just a matter of saving windows and the stuff inside buildings. It’s a matter of live and death.