US Oakland's homicides spike during the pandemic: media

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U.S. Californian city Oakland has experienced a sharp uptick in homicides as the pandemic has unfolded, according to a newspaper report.

Through May 23, the city had recorded 51 homicides, a 132 percent increase compared with the same period last year and a 70 percent increase compared with 2019, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday.

So far this year, the areas with the most homicides are Area 3, the region encompassing Fruitvale and Central Oakland, and Area 5, Oakland's easternmost section. East Oakland and the Fruitvale area are home to more of the city's low-income residents of color than North Oakland, West Oakland or downtown, the report said.

Three main reasons caused the dramatic increase in fatal violence, according to Antoine Towers, chair of Oakland's Violence Prevention Coalition.

School closures drove many young people into the streets with more conflicts with each other. Drug and alcohol abuse increased when people being stuck in the house. And the loss of income might lead some people to commit severe crimes.

Oakland's homicide record was 165 in 1992. Since then, the homicides have mostly fallen with 70 in 2018, and 78 in 2019.

Oakland is not the only city facing these issues. Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City all saw major upticks in homicide rates in the first three months of 2021 relatively to the same period of last year, according to media reports.

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