What’s Behind the Shootings? – The New York Times
What’s Behind the Shootings? – The New York Times
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Good morning. A heat wave is pounding the South. Fauci responds to his White House critics. And crime is rising in several major cities.
Gun violence has been rising lately in some of the biggest American cities. It’s happened in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and, perhaps most notably, Minneapolis, the scene of the brutal killing of George Floyd and the intense protests that followed.
The trend raises a question: Is it possible to change the nature of policing in the United States — and to make it less violent, as protesters are demanding — without unleashing other kinds of violence?
Some opponents of police reform say no. Some advocates of police reform claim that the recent crime increase is a meaningless blip.
To make sense of it, I talked with Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist who’s written perhaps the clearest explanation of the great crime decline of the past few decades, a book called “Uneasy Peace.” He offers two main answers:
First, the crime increase is not just statistical noise. It’s real, even if there are sometimes multiple causes, depending on the city. “It is a pattern,” Sharkey said. “When there have been large-scale protests against police, it is pretty clear that some police have stopped doing their jobs, and that’s destabilizing.”
Before this year, the biggest examples were in 2015, in Baltimore and in Ferguson, Mo., where crime also rose after protests. “I worry this is going to be a violent summer in a lot of cities,” Sharkey added.
But a second point is also vital: The rise in violence is not inevitable.
It happens because some police officers respond to criticism by staging a work slowdown — and because the U.S. relies on the police to fulfill so many roles that other civic organizations could accomplish. That reliance also has huge downsides.
“Police are effective at controlling violence, but there are all these costs,” Sharkey said. They include mass incarceration and widespread violence committed by the police, often against Black men.
“But there are alternatives that maintain safe streets without the costs,” says Sharkey, who was previously the scientific director of Crime Lab New York and is now a Princeton professor. “There is now a body of evidence showing these are not just feel-good stories. The effects are very real.”
The alternatives include conflict-resolution counselors, addiction and mental-health programs, summer-jobs and after-school programs and more. The Cure Violence program, in Chicago, New York and elsewhere, is an example. (For more detail, read this 2017 Times article.)
“We’ve asked police departments to be the primary force that responds to many situations,” Sharkey said. That’s not the only option, of course. But when it’s the approach that cities take — and when police then respond to protests by pulling back — violence often does increase.
For more: The Times’s Ashley Southall looks in depth at the recent crime increase in New York.
FOUR MORE BIG STORIES
1. Where the protests haven’t stopped
In Louisville, Ky., protesters continue to hit the streets demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed at her home by the police. The Times has put together a visual story about the daily demonstrations.
On Tuesday, 87 demonstrators were arrested and charged with a felony after gathering outside the home of Kentucky’s attorney general to demand action in Taylor’s case. None of the officers involved in the shooting have been charged.
In Minneapolis: Journalists were allowed to watch the police body camera footage from the killing of George Floyd for the first time. In the video, “the officers seemed to be more concerned with controlling his body than saving his life,” Times reporters write.
2. Fauci responds to attacks
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most prominent scientist on the White House coronavirus task force, pressed back against criticism that some Trump administration officials have recently leveled at him. “I cannot figure out in my wildest dreams why they would want to do that,” Fauci said in an interview with The Atlantic. “It’s only reflecting negatively on them.”
Trump aides have criticized Fauci for underplaying the virus, and Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser, has called him “wrong about everything.” In truth, Fauci’s predictions about the virus — and his warning about its seriousness — have proven more accurate than the president’s remarks in recent months.
In Oklahoma: Gov. Kevin Stitt announced yesterday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, a first for a U.S. governor.
3. A heat wave hits the South
4. U.S. considers barring many Chinese
The Trump administration is considering a sweeping ban on travel to the United States by members of the Chinese Communist Party and their families, The Times’s Paul Mozur and Edward Wong report. About 92 million Chinese citizens belong to the party.
Administration officials have loudly denounced China for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak and its crackdown on Hong Kong.
Elsewhere: TikTok, which is owned by a company based in China, has hired a small army of lobbyists to convince lawmakers of its allegiance to the U.S.
Here’s what else is happening
President Trump demoted his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, last night, in an effort to lift a re-election effort that is trailing in the polls.
Hackers hijacked the Twitter accounts of a number of major figures, including Barack Obama, Kanye West and Bill Gates, and posted messages asking followers to send them Bitcoin. (Unaffected was Trump’s account, which is under a special kind of lock-and-key after past incidents.)
Deadly monsoons across southern Asia have displaced millions of people, destroying homes and drowning villages. Scientists say global warming has increased the frequency of extreme rains that cause flooding.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, was released from the hospital yesterday, a day after she was admitted for a possible infection.
Lives Lived: Like Walt Disney, Blaine Kern was an artist, a businessman and a showman all in one. As the designer of innovative and spectacular parade floats, he helped turn Mardi Gras from a New Orleans institution into a worldwide phenomenon. Kern died at 93.
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PLAY, WATCH, EAT, GARDEN
Gardening makes Samin Nosrat happier. Yanking out weeds, composting for hours at a time and planting seeds have become a kind of solace, “regenerating both the soil and something deep in myself,” she writes.
Green coriander seed — the fresh seed of the cilantro plant — is Nosrat’s favorite thing to grow. Intensely fragrant and slightly citrusy, it can be used interchangeably with cilantro in stews, marinades, dressings and more. Try it in her recipe for corn on the cob with green coriander butter.
For more on gardening: Read the fascinating history of victory gardens in the Times Magazine.
A star director gets her due
Best known for intimate dramas like “Love & Basketball” and “Beyond the Lights,” the director Gina Prince-Bythewood is trying her hand at something new: a summer blockbuster.
Netflix has released “The Old Guard,” starring Charlize Theron, which makes Prince-Bythewood the first Black woman to helm a big-budget comic book movie. Read this interview with her, in which she talked about the perils of the Netflix algorithm, sexism in the film industry and the future of independent films.
The show goes on, at a distance
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David
P.S. This was supposed to be the week of the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. But there’s still plenty of politics to talk about. Join several Times reporters — plus Julián Castro — for a conversation today at 5 p.m. Eastern.
You can see today’s print front page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” revisits a restaurant owner in Baton Rouge, La., who struggled to decide whether to reopen. On “The Argument,” Times Opinion columnists interview Senator Tammy Duckworth, a potential running mate for Joe Biden.
Ian Prasad Philbrick, Sanam Yar, Gus Wezerek and Lauren Leatherby contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.