#MNR: [The Right To] Kill at Will, Part 2
“I walk around town with the pound strapped down on my side. No frontin’, just in case I gotta smoke somethin’.”
Steele of Smif-N-Wessun
I remember having a conversation with a young shooter from #BXNYC about a decade ago. At the time, I was only a few years removed from my street exploits, so I had a good understanding of how crazy shit was in the streets of New York at that time. But I hadn’t tapped in with MF who were really putting in pain in a good minute. The kid and I chopped it up for a while. I spoke on my time in the streets, about some of the gun clappers I know/knew personally. He soaked it all in. I don’t know what his lasting impression of our talk was, but I damn sure remember the thesis of what he told me. It all boiled down to a single statement: “It’s all about the bodies.”
I still think about that kid’s stark and stoic assessment of the times. Ironically, NYC (at the time) wasn’t nearly as crazy as it was in my childhood (the crack era), the early 1990s (the end of the crack era), or even the early 2000s. NYPD tactics like “stop and frisk” (I’m sure you’re all familiar with the term; I lived it), mayor-designated “red zones” (high crime areas which were in turn supported by mandated 2X the police presence), and covert entities like the “gun boys” (a team of police ONLY interested in illegal & concealed guns) were responsible for drastically reducing the murder rate in the city. In fact, the murder and overall crime rate had fallen so steadily and drastically that NYC for a time was unofficially labeled the safest big city in America.
Sure, the murder rate had fallen in the city, but I knew that that young man’s mentality wasn’t an outlier. I knew that his mentality was echoed by plenty of others, exacerbated by the rise of gang activity and social media. I knew that the potential for disaster, though dormant, was ready and waiting for a catalyst to rekindle the deadly inferno of eras past. Then it came. Its name? Covid-19.
Through 12.5.2021, New York City has logged 443 homicides, quite possibly on pace to slightly eclipse its 2020 total of 468. To add perspective, there were “only” 318 homicides in 2019, which ironically was the highest since 2016. But it’s ok, right? It’s only NYC. The Rotten Apple is just doing what it does regardless, right? Wrong.
Murder is [again] on the rise across the United States of America. There were 21,500 homicides in 2020, the highest total since the mid-90s, and a 30% increase from 2019 (the largest single year increase in the history of the US). 77% of homicides in 2020 were from guns, up 3% from 2019. Unfortunately, 2021 is almost certain to be even worse than 2020. Almost every major city has seen an increase in homicides in 2021. Louisville, KY, Columbus, OH, Albuquerque, NM, Tucson, AZ, Rochester, NY, Portland, OR, Minneapolis, MN, and Nashville, TN have all already set records for homicides this year. Austin, home of the University of Texas and the state’s fastest growing city, has witnessed its deadliest year on record, with 88 homicides so far. This number shatters the previous mark of 59 in 1984. Indianapolis, IN has recorded 230 murders in 2021, already more than its 2020 total of 215. Memphis, TN has 310 homicides (as of 12.6) a drastic increase from 186 in 2020. Baltimore, MD has recorded 320 bodies, quite possibly on pace to eclipse its 2019 total of 348, a record for the city. California has seen an uptick of murders in its four largest cities: San Francisco has already bettered its 2020 total of 42 homicides with 45 so far this year, San Diego is eight better than its 2020 total of 74 with 82 this year, Oakland is currently at 112 murders as opposed to 81 in 2020, and LA is way ahead of its 2020 total of 284 bodies with 352 this year. Philadelphia, PA has positioned itself as the number two deadliest city in America with 513 homicides so far in 2021, its highest total since 503 in 1990. The dubious distinction of “America’s Deadliest City” belongs to the Raq, formerly known as Chiraq. Chicago has tallied 761 homicides in 2021 (as of today), well on pace to better last year’s total of 775.
The only major US city that I’ve seen with a substantial decrease in homicides is St. Louis, MO. It will almost certainly lower its number of 263 in 2020, as it sits at 178 homicides as of this morning.
The final portion of this blog may read better as a Power Point, as it feels that there are enough bullet points to make for an A+ presentation. There are diverse factors which have led to America’s insane homicide numbers: the pandemic, gun sales, gun violence, relaxed gun laws, social unrest, and gang activity.
The Covid-19 pandemic is the number one reason for the uptick in murder in America and it is basically the spark for most or all the other factors. I should probably subtitle the pandemic with mental health, as its forced isolation led to the deterioration of social interaction. Not only were people not able to mingle in social arenas like bars, clubs, and other social events, but many were also ostracized from family and close friends. Students were taught virtually. Many people were forced to suffer the loss of loved ones without being able to visit them in the hospital or attend their funerals. The mind is so fragile. Isolation meant way too much time for many to be alone with their thoughts. Over the course of months and a year, many thoughts grew dark. Some were unable to process these thoughts in a healthy manner. Some chose violence.
The assassination of Mr. George Floyd was the removal of the pin from the grenade of the angst of Black America. Watching that man suffer in agony for nine minutes before his life was extinguished angered many to the point of self-uttered calls to arms. MF were angry and scared at the same damn time and chose to arm themselves against all perceived threats.
Combine the pandemic and social unrest, and you’ve suddenly got a previously unseen sense of urgency across the nation to self-protect. Racial tension, fear, political propaganda, etc. They all played a role in America’s sudden need to either become armed for the first time or to become “extra” strapped and cop all the guns and ammo possible. I should research gun sales in 2020. I’m certain to be fascinated.
RELAXED GUN LAWS
Texas immediately comes to mind. Good ole Governor Abbott wants as many guns on the streets as possible. This type of policy only makes it harder to police day in, day out. Just like Project Pat said – errbody strapped. It’s damn near impossible for police in places like Memphis to discern who is and who isn’t legally carrying. Refer to the aforementioned social unrest. A lot of this unrest called for actions ranging from logical police reform all the way to the extreme of defunding police outright. Like it or not, police were ostracized. Some walked away from their line of work altogether, whether retirement or change of occupation. Many who remained felt angry and undervalued. We all know disgruntled workers are quick to develop apathy. Apathy leads to looking the other way and slack work. You can finish the thought.
Increased gang activity across the map was already an issue. Today’s rap music only adds to the allure. The pandemic only made it worse, in tandem with all the previously mentioned factors. Add a thin layer of cloth to conceal facial identity and you’ve got the perfect blend of aggression and anonymity. Walk a MF down, unload the clip, skate off. The cameras just see another young Black male in a mask, hoodie, and skinny jeans/sweats. The code of the streets ensures that no one’s talking. Without Lester Freeman or the Bunk to work a murder police miracle, there’s a good chance that a body remains in red on the murder board.
I pray for this nation.
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