LOS ANGELES - Demicha Lofton-Thomas lost her 21-year-old son in 2016 to gun violence. Fast-forward to 2021, she was understandably saddened to hear the latest crime numbers.
According to the latest data from the Los Angeles Police Department, there are 191 homicides reported so far this year, compared to 153 last year. Murder is up 25% and shootings overall up 50%.
Says Lofton-Thomas, "People have been locked up for over a year… The sad part is that now that the pandemic is over, there’s more people outside people being released from jail and they just out of control."
To her and Commander Timothy Harrelson, there are also too many guns out on the street. Harrelson says the rapidly growing murder and shooting rate is the number-one concern at LAPD Headquarters.
Harrelson says, "The bottom line is that we need to get control of it and in order to get control of it we need to understand it."
He’s asking for support from local community organizations to get guns off the streets but to community activities, there’s just too many and not a lot of respect for life.
To activist Najee Ali, "We as a society have seen a devaluing of human life culturally and the uptick in homicides show that human beings don’t respect human lives and any time you can take a life and not think twice about it so we as a society have to come to grips with that."
Lawanda Hawkins says when her son was killed in 1995, "LAPD had homicides that were off the charts. It was out of control and I’m scared it’s getting ready to happen again to us."
To Commander Timothy Harrelson, more gun buy-back programs may be a good thing right about now.
He says, "The gun buyback programs are effective. You can get thousands of guns off the street on single programs. So certainly more of those moving to the future will help but a lot of it is going to be about education too."