Crime statistics have been declining in Southern California and other parts of the U.S. for years. The trend is no different with the pandemic in 2020, but there are a few exceptions. Car thefts are up. And in LA and many big cities, so are homicides.
This past weekend, four people were fatally shot in Los Angeles, including a 17-year-old boy killed while riding his bike. That raises the number to 300 homicides so far in 2020, a grim milestone that hasn’t been seen here in more than a decade.
Many of those killings have taken place in South LA, an area that has been hard hit by COVID-19.
“For the most part, the homicides that are going on are not gang-related,” says Skipp Townsend, head of 2nd Call, a gang intervention organization in South LA.
He continues, “A lot of what’s going on is relationship-based. People who know each other, whether it’s domestic violence or family violence … they are killing each other instead of arguing and fighting.”
Also, the coronavirus-driven economic crisis and social distancing rules may be driving behaviors.
“I think COVID-19 has a lot to do with it, with individuals who are young, who have been in a house, who don’t have that social setting they used to have, sitting around and wanting to do things,” says Townsend. “I believe that also the money that was in the community — there’s a lot of money in the community because of COVID because of different reasons — and that gave access to weapons, so people were able to purchase firearms.”