Some keywords are strangely missing from news about increased shootings in Providence.
According to a chart published as part of WPRI’s report on the increase in victims of shootings in Providence, the city has regressed nearly to its 2015 level after steadily falling until 2020. The number hit a low of 35 in 2019 and then more than doubled in 2020 and has increased from that point in 2021.
In looking to explain the numbers, an analyst might ask what changed in 2020 for such a stark rebound in shootings, and what has happened in 2021 that might expand on that? Here are the results for some keyword searches in section of the article that explores the data and the reasons for the increase:
- COVID: zero
- Pandemic: two, with one reference to the decline prior to the pandemic and one reference to gun sales during the pandemic
- Lockdown: zero
- Unemployment: zero
- Jobs: zero
- School: zero
So, we see a massive increase in shootings during a year when the government forcibly locked down the economy and closed the doors of schools, and that fact features not at all in the news story. In fact, the only explanation for this mysterious turn of events comes from the city’s police chief, Hugh Clements: the number of guns. That’s it.
Maybe I missed something, so let’s try some more keywords:
- Black Lives Matter or BLM: zero
- Defund (as in “defund the police”): zero
- Riot: zero
- Protest: zero
- Bail: zero
- Prison (as in “released early from prison,” see here and here): zero
So, a year of anti-authority riots and early release from prison in a COVID-related panic also doesn’t merit consideration as a contributing factor in the spike of shootings.
How about another set of keywords along a slightly different line:
- Gang: one, but only to describe the circumstances of the single most-violent day
- Drug: zero
- Immigration: zero
A conspicuous increase in gang-related activity in Rhode Island amounts only to context in the article, and the Community Safety Act that Providence passed for woke reasons in 2017, making it more difficult for police to keep track of gangs gets no mention at all. And a wave of illegal immigration, which certainly includes gang members and which may be connected with mysterious midnight flights of young adults into Rhode Island could not be further removed from the article.
We could keep going. Terms like “family” and “father” appear only incidentally, not as factors that might help explain increases in violence.
In short, this sort of reporting is worse than simply publishing a chart of the data because it distracts attention toward the government’s preferred explanation, probably to protect favored politicians and a favored ideology. Indeed, the name of the city’s mayor, Democrat Jorge Elorza, is kept well away from the description of the problem, only appearing so as to blame guns and take credit for spending the federal windfall.
Featured image by Brock Wegner on Unsplash.