As one new problem has subsided…
An old one reemerges….
Local officials will have to balance more crime fighting with sensitive dealing with minority communities ….
Mayors of American cities have yearned for the moment they could usher in a return to normalcy, casting away coronavirus restrictions on bars, restaurants, parties and public gatherings.
Yet now, even with reopenings underway across the United States as the pandemic recedes, city leaders must contend with another crisis: a crime wave with no signs of ending.
They are cheerleading the return of office workers to downtowns and encouraging tourists to visit, eager to rejuvenate the economy and build public confidence. But they are also frantically trying to quell a surge of homicides, assaults and carjackings that began during the pandemic and has cast a chill over the recovery.
In Austin, Texas, for example, 14 people were injured early Saturday morning in a mass shooting as revelers jammed a popular downtown nightlife district.
Some city officials have touted progressive strategies focused on community policing in neighborhoods where trust between police officers and residents has frayed. Others have deployed more traditional tactics like increasing surveillance cameras in troubled areas and enforcing curfews in city parks to clear out crowds, as the police did in Washington Square Park in Manhattan in recent days.
In Chicago, which fully reopened on Friday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot made clear that her focus was on reducing violence over the summer, and that her administration would focus resources on 15 high-crime pockets of the city as part of that effort.
“We owe it to all of our residents, in every neighborhood, to bring peace and vibrancy back,” Ms. Lightfoot said….
“There are a myriad of issues that play into why we see higher levels of violence — poverty, food insecurity and other related issues,” she said, “and, of course, Covid.”…
Still, even as frustration has mounted, there was also a sense that residents did not want to return to the aggressive measures that officials had resorted to in the past, which had a long tail of consequences and a disproportionate impact on African Americans….
image…Credit…Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times, via Associated Press