On April 26, 2020 Telish Gardner, a 49-year-old sanitation worker and father of four, was shot and killed in his home in south Los Angeles. Two days later, just a few blocks away, Magali Alberto was killed in her car waiting for a light to change when three young men drove up alongside her and fired multiple shots into her tinted windows. Police say the 28-year-old single mother was randomly targeted.

Gardner and Magali’s murders last year were two of four in a census tract just shy of a half-square mile, where Black and Hispanic residents make up over 95% of the population. In 2019, the same area saw only a single murder. Despite a statewide stay-at-home order, Los Angeles recorded 332 killings in 2020, a precipitous jump — 95 more lives lost to murder than the year before, according to the city’s crime data. Almost all of the increase in homicides took place in Los Angeles’ Black or Hispanic neighborhoods.

Across the country, other cities followed a similar pattern last year: a spike in murders, concentrated in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, according to a Marshall Project analysis.

“2020 was a tinderbox,” said Fernando Rejón, who heads the Urban Peace Institute. “The multiple crises have exposed the public health gaps and the public safety gaps that have existed for generations.”

As COVID-19 raged through Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native communities, the devastation went beyond the disproportionate death toll, experts said. Lost jobs or wages have been concentrated in communities of color when businesses shut down. Schools, recreation centers and after-school programs have been shuttered in neighborhoods that need them most. Mentoring, counseling, prison and jail reentry programs and conflict mediation programs have scaled back, gone remote, or spent precious bandwidth filling other gaps like handing out PPE or passing out food.

Read the full article about why murders rose last year by Weihua Li and Beth Schwartzapfel at The Marshall Project.