The killings rolled over the country like a fast-moving storm. From Savannah to Austin, from Chicago to Cleveland. In six hours one night this month, four mass-shooting attacks. And in their wake, a sober recognition from city leaders that they don’t have many options left for curbing a surge in homicides that is traumatizing communities nationwide.
“We have done almost all we can do,” said Van Johnson, the mayor of Savannah, Ga.
The tools for fighting back are “limited” without state and federal help, said Austin Mayor Steve Adler (D).
“It’s going to get worse,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson (D) said.
As the homicide rate climbed through a year of pandemic-imposed shutdowns and civil unrest, officials held firm to their belief that the rise was driven by that exceptional set of circumstances. As life returned to normal, the theory went, the killings would slow.
But even as coronavirus restrictions have been lifted and protests have quieted in recent months, the violence has not subsided. Indeed, it has continued to grow. And now, local leaders are grappling with a possibility they had long feared: that a decades-long era of declining murder rates in America’s cities may be over, and that the increased killings may be here to stay.
“There’s nothing,” said Jackson, “that’s going to bring this down in the near future.”
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