You’ll note that ever since President Barack Obama started campaigning for president, the right wing of this nation has been obsessed with murders happening in Chicago. Before that, they mainly focused on Baltimore.
And yet these are not the deadliest cities in the USA. The following is a table of cities, complete with homicide rate and state / city leaning. I’ve also included the Giffords rating for gun laws. Please note that I am only including cities with population 100,000 or above; there are many rural towns with a much higher murder rate but few actual murders (stats are a b*tch).
|City||State||Homicide Rate||State Politics||City Politics||Gifford Rating|
|Newport News||Virginia||13.53||Red-Purple (Recent Blue Trifecta)||Independent||B|
|South Bend||Indiana||13.72||Red (Trifecta)||Democrat||D|
|Louisville||Kentucky||13.92||Red (Recent Red-Purple)||Democrat||F|
|Greensboro||North Carolina||14.43||Red (Recent Red-Purple)||Democrat||D|
|Norfolk||Virginia||14.83||Red-Purple (Recent Blue Trifecta)||Democrat||B|
|Albuquerque||New Mexico||14.95||Blue-Purple (Recent Blue Trifecta)||Democrat||C+|
|West Palm Beach||Florida||15.07||Red (Trifecta)||Democrat||C-|
|Rochester||New York||16.04||Blue-Purple (Recent Blue Trifecta)||Democrat||A-|
|Milwaukee||Wisconsin||16.41||Red Trifecta (Recent Red-Purple)||Democrat||C-|
|Savannah||Georgia||16.61||Red (Trifecta)||Republican |
|High Point||North Carolina||16.77||Red (Recent Red-Purple)||Independent||D|
|Newark||New Jersey||18.08||Blue-Purple (Recent Blue Trifecta)||Democrat||A|
|Chicago||Illinois||18.26||Blue-Purple (Recent and Past Blue Trifecta)||Democrat||A-|
|Buffalo||New York||18.38||Blue-Purple (Recent Blue Trifecta)||Democrat||A-|
|Little Rock||Arkansas||19.15||Red (Trifecta)||Democrat||F|
|San Bernardino||California||21.23||Blue (Trifecta)||Republican||A|
|Columbia||South Carolina||21.68||Red (Trifecta)||Democrat||F|
|Philadelphia||Pennsylvania||22.47||Red Trifecta (Recent Red-Purple)||Democrat||C+|
|Peoria||Illinois||22.53||Blue-Purple (Recent and Past Blue Trifecta)||Republican||A-|
|North Charleston||South Carolina||22.55||Red (Trifecta)||Republican||F|
|Miami Gardens||Florida||23.64||Red (Trifecta)||Democrat||C-|
|Richmond||Virginia||23.84||Red-Purple (Recent Blue Trifecta)||Democrat||B|
|Kansas City||Missouri||29.88||Red-Purple (Recent Red Trifecta)||Democrat||F|
|Detroit||Michigan||41.45||Red Trifecta (Recent Red-Purple)||Democrat||C|
|St. Louis||Missouri||64.54||Red-Purple (Recent Red Trifecta)||Democrat||F|
There is a reason for this laser focus, and it’s not that they care about people dying. That much is obvious in them ignoring the stats above; if they truly cared about the homicide rates of places, they would discuss St Louis much more often. Chicago and Baltimore aren’t remotely the only deadly cities, and many other have a far more bracing murder rate and violent crime rate. They are, however, known for being historically significant for African American populations and to have Democrats in power.
So it boils down to simple political narrative, and the following 3 lines of attack:
- A place traditionally run by Democrats having a negative statistic
- A place where “whiteness” is not an assumed thing
- A place people already think of as negative
1) The “Democrat-Controlled Cities” Narrative
This one comes up all the time when discussing crime statistics. It goes that since all these cities where crime is high are run by Democrats, it must have to do with their leadership. For Chicago this is doubly effective, because Chicago is known as a Democrat stronghold.
The narrative is very misleading, however, as it draws no line between any specific policy or practice that consistently would lead to higher crime rates. This is because despite it being true that most of the top 50 cities for violence are run by Democrats, most cities in the USA in general are run by Democrats. This has to do with voters often rejecting Republican platforms when they live closer together, interact more and have more population density.
Out of 50 of the top populated cities in the USA, Republicans control 10 of them, and most near the bottom of that list. Many of those end up also on the list above, with skewed statistics relative to their population. Jacksonville, for example, has 3.22 times less the population of Chicago, but only 1.29 times less crime.
So there appears to be no causal link between who runs the city and the crime rate. New York, LA, Houston, Phoenix, etc all top the population charts and are run by Democrats, but do not make anywhere near the top on crime stats. This narrative is thus not based in fact.
2) The “Civilized Whiteness” Narrative
St Louis is 48% White. Baltimore is 30.46% White. Birmingham is 35.07% White. Detroit is 14.7% White.
Racists and those pushing racist memes use this to try to “prove” that the less white the city, the more violent it is. It’s used often by Republicans to “call on Black Americans to take responsibility for your communities,” or lines like that. Chicago, being 31.7% White, fits this narrative nicely for them, because the US as a whole is 75% White, showcasing a massive difference they can call back to. It also helps that the most White regions of the USA are often sparsely populated, often leaving them off the charts.
However, when we examine this closer, it easily falls apart. First off, you would expect as the percentage of white people goes down, crime would go up. But for the cities mentioned above, that’s the opposite effect. Now city number 5 is Dayton, and Dayton is 55.7% White, so again we see no pattern in the numbers. It’s not that the more White it gets, the higher the crime rate either.
Out of the 15 largest cities in the USA, 5 of them make the table above. They are:
Jacksonville (45): 59.4% White
Dallas (42): 50.7% White
Chicago (28): 45% White
Indianapolis (23): 62% White
Philadelphia (16): 41.8% White
There is no pattern here. Sometimes it looks like more white people = more crime. Sometimes it looks like the opposite. It’s all cherry picking.
3) The “Shithole Cities” Narrative
Politically strongholds or stereotypically left or right places are used as cudgels. If you are a Democrat, you will probably point to Florida or Alabama or Mississippi when you want to knock Republicans. If you are a Republican, you point to Chicago, Baltimore/DC or California. This is done because it is easily familiar to your base, and doesn’t require any proof. It works on pre-conceived notions and one-time issues.
Look above. Mississippi doesn’t even make the table. Florida is far less represented than “Florida Man” stories would have you believe. Alabama, while often mocked for poor policies, is actually the deadliest of the three. Meanwhile, California does rank a few times, but when a city ranks high it’s run by a Republican. Chicago doesn’t even make the top 25. Baltimore/DC meanwhile remains one of the most violent-crime areas (and one could also posit crime in general, if we include politicians), but still falls far below St Louis, which is barely reported on at all in far right circles.
If you look at the data, none of it supports the narratives of certain cities being violent shitholes. If we really wanted to discuss violence, we’d be seeing Dayton, Birmingham or St Louis far more often. But those aren’t convenient to the narratives, so we don’t.
The right wing is obsessed with Chicago because they are stuck in three misinformed narratives. The stats show no consistent relation from policy to violent crime, though one can make conclusions per city were one so inclined. Doing so would require comparisons to other cities in the list above however to truly establish a trend.
Most cities in the above table are run by Democrats (39/50). Most of them are located in Red States with Poor ratings for gun control (39/50). Nothing there establishes a common pattern, except if your town is named Richmond, run.
Continued obsession with Chicago stats is entirely politically biased and serves no actual role in discussing the reduction of violent crime.