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Homicides Surge in California Amid Covid Shutdowns of Schools, Youth Programs

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Amid a pandemic that left law enforcement agencies stretched thin and forced shutdowns that left young men with little to do, California registered a devastating surge in homicides in 2020 that hit especially hard in Black and Latino communities.

The number of homicides that took the lives of Black Californians rose 36% from 2019 to 2020, while homicides that took Hispanic lives rose 30%. By comparison, the number of white homicide victims rose 15% and the number of Asian victims rose 10%.

Firearms were the most common instrument of death, and the number of homicides involving guns rose 35% last year, the state data shows. Extending another long-standing trend: Males were five times as likely to be the victims of homicide as females. The number of male victims rose 30% in 2020, compared with a 14% rise in female victims.

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