At least 17 children have died violently in St. Louis this year, a tally that has underscored a widening racial crime disparity in that city and others amid the pandemic. The gulf between the rates of violence in Black and white communities widened by 106 percent in the nation’s largest cities, reports the Washington Post. An analysis of 27 cities showed the rate of violent crime in majority-white neighborhoods fell 30 percent while stay-at-home orders were in effect, dipping to its lowest point in two years. After the orders were lifted, violent crime in those neighborhoods returned to pre-pandemic levels, but stayed below average compared with 2018 and 2019. In majority-Black neighborhoods, the rate of violence remained steady while stay-at-home orders were in effect, but rose dramatically after orders were lifted, peaking at 133 crimes per 100,000 residents in July, the highest level in three years.
This year, the rate of increase in Black neighborhoods has been dramatic, peaking higher than in 2018 and 2019 by about 10 and eight percent, respectively. Crime rates dropped in March after stay-at-home orders were imposed to combat the pandemic. Rates flattened in April, but when orders began to lift in May, violent crime rose in majority-Black neighborhoods, surging past levels in 2018 and 2019. “There’s not just one pattern that’s really leading to divergent trends in cities,” said Patrick Sharkey, a Princeton University criminologist. “You have the lockdowns and then you have the response to the George Floyd incident and the proliferation of demonstrations against police brutality and racial justice, and the resulting response from police departments.” Children with gunshot wounds are arriving in unprecedented numbers at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The hospital has treated 114 children through Oct. 8 — more than all of 2019 The average age of victims is dropping and that more have high-caliber gunshot wounds. More than 90 percent of this years victims are Black.