What To Know Today

The mid-sized cities where fatal shootings have been highest this year. Recent gun violence spikes in big cities like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia have received a lot of attention. But it’s 11 cities with populations under a million that saw the highest rates of fatal shootings this January through March, according to numbers compiled by Patrick Sharkey’s AmericanViolence.org. The five cities with the highest rates are St. Louis (65 shooting deaths per 100K residents); Baton Rouge, Louisiana (48 per 100K); New Orleans (47 per 100K); Birmingham, Alabama (44 per 100K); and Baltimore (39 per 100K). Philadelphia and Chicago, which both have populations over a million, came in at 12th and 21st, respectively. A caveat on city limits vs. metropolitan areas. Crime analyst Jeff Asher has noted that cities like St. Louis — which regularly leads lists like this one — comprise only a small share of their greater metropolitan area’s population. A city with more expansive borders can have fewer deaths-per-resident because of the wider range of neighborhoods included. “Some cities have larger boundaries, with suburbs included within city limits,” he wrote in 2019. “The core of a city might have relatively high crime, but the numbers from suburban areas can bring rates down.”

Attorney general testifies for more federal resources to fight domestic extremism. Speaking before the Senate appropriations committee, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland reaffirmed the FBI’s characterization of violent white supremacy as the nation’s most lethal domestic threat. Garland, who prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, added that online communication and the availability of heavy and untraceable weapons had exacerbated the problem since then. He also announced new Department of Justice measures to help the agency track domestic violent extremism cases and standardize data collection. “Data about [domestic violence extremism] has been historically incomplete and insufficient for developing effective approaches to countering the threat,” Mary McCord, executive director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, told Yahoo News ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.

Attempts to weed out extremists from police agencies run into trouble. The New York Times reports on legislative efforts in Oregon, California, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., to increase vetting in law enforcement. Measures have included more robust background checks focused on identifying applicants’ links to hate groups and making it easier to fire officers with extremist ties. But the various efforts have been complicated by concerns from local police unions, in part because of legal questions around whether screening employees’ ideologies violates constitutionally protected speech. “We are trying to thread that needle to ensure those rights, but also not to tolerate any type of hate group,” one Oregon legislator told the Times.

Lawyers for the family of Andrew Brown Jr. say bodycam footage shows an “ambush.” Police killed the 42-year-old man last month while he was in his car in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His family previously saw a short clip of officer footage, but under a state judge’s order this week they were provided far more extensive video. Brown family lawyer Chance Lynch disputed the local prosecutor’s contention that Brown had backed up his car toward officers: “We did not see any actions on Mr. Brown’s part where he made contact with them or tried to go in their direction.” A private autopsy ordered by Brown’s family previously showed Brown was shot in the back of the head, and the FBI has announced a civil rights probe of his death.

Data Point

82 percent — the share of voters in America’s 40 largest cities who support training community leaders to interrupt potentially deadly violence, according to a recent poll. The total includes 88 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of independents, and 66 percent of Republicans. [Data for Progress/The Appeal]