Examining violent crime in American cities

A person in a mask walks with a small sign.
Turquoise London holds a sign in the air as they participate in a peace walk against community gun violence in Minneapolis in 2020.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

A rise in homicides and other violent crimes in 2020 and 2021 have made headlines in major American cities across the country, but what or who is to blame is up for debate. 

Nationwide data shows homicide rates went up 24 percent for the first quarter of 2021 — an increase of 193 homicides compared to 2020, and up 49 percent since 2019 — an increase of 324 homicides.

For some, the rise in violent crime is a matter of partisan politics. Republicans in Congress blame last summer’s mass protests against police violence and calls to defund the police for the climb. 

But for others, the issue is more complicated. Jeff Asher, a data analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics, says murder rates increased in cities run by both Democrats and Republicans and also increased both in places that saw modest cuts to police budgets and in those that increased police spending. 

Tuesday, host Kerri Miller talked to Asher and Roseanna Ander, executive director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, about what the latest data shows, what’s responsible for the rise in crime and about recent efforts to curb gun violence. 


  • Jeff Asher, data analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics.

  • Roseanna Ander is the founding executive director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Education Lab. 

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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