The FBI reports murders in the United States increased 10.8% from 2014 to 2015, the largest percentage increase since 1971, thus reversing the progress made since 2009 to put the total number of annual US murders back at 15,696.
The increases in murders were concentrated in the inner-cities, specifically Baltimore, Washington DC, Chicago, Houston, and Milwaukee. Chicago, Houston, and Baltimore have already been cited by the Brennan Center for Justice as having double digit increases in murders. Most of the cities cited by the FBI as having increases have large African-American populations, which is why the FBI data shows the spike in murders is related to more killings of black men.
According to the data, over 900 more black men were murdered in 2015 than 2014, their deaths mostly the result of gun violence. Gun violence made up a larger share of the method for overall murders in the country, coming in at 71.5%. Murders by knife slightly declined.
Chicago was one of the cities leading the increase. Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the city has suffered a wave of gun violence that has already put the city past 500 murders for this year. The shootings are so lethal and so frequent that Emanuel’s Chicago has gotten the nickname “Chiraq,” a combination of Chicago and war-torn Iraq.
But some FBI officials such as Director James Comey have gone beyond blaming bad local governance to claim that Black Lives Matter and a general anti-police attitude have led to more killings because law enforcement has become more cautious in pursuing criminal investigations. This claim cannot be proven and it is worth noting police killings of black men are not classified as murders.
The Obama years have not been particularly kind to African-Americans, especially young black men. Not only are young black men facing a deepening threat of lethal violence, but real unemployment for them remains at at over 50%.
The black middle class no longer technically exists thanks to the 2008 financial crisis and resulting wave of fraudulent foreclosures that former and current Wall Street lawyer Attorney General Eric Holder allowed to proceed with little interference.
The new FBI murder statistics are likely to become an issue in the 2016 elections, especially in the presidential contest. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made various (often inaccurate) claims about increasing crime rates, while Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has embraced the status quo and positions herself as a continuation of the Obama presidency.