Violent crime in Portland, Oregon, has drastically risen over the last three years, most precipitously in 2020, when the city saw near-nightly protests and riots over the death of George Floyd.
"This report confirms the unfortunate reality of what we already knew – that gun violence is on the rise in Portland and that it is being driven by a very small percentage of our population," Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement Saturday following the release of the crime data.
Researchers for the California Partnership for Safe Communities compiled crime data from the city, specifically examining homicides and non-fatal shootings from 2019 to 2021. The data found that there was a 144% increase in homicides from January 2019 to June 2021 while non-fatal shootings increase by 241% from January 2019 to December 2021.
The violent crimes began ticking up in 2019, with 36 homicides that year compared to 26 in 2018. The city had held a 20-year average of 28 homicides per year, with 2004 as the outlier at 29 homicides.
That average was soon obliterated when the data showed 2020 notched a 58% increase in homicides compared to the year prior, at 57 deaths, and 2021 recorded a 54% increase, at 88 homicides. The number of homicides in 2021 was a 238% increase from numbers recorded in 2018.
Non-fatal shootings have meanwhile more than tripled from 2019 to 2021. The city recorded 98 non-fatal shootings in 2019, which rose to 218 in 2020, and 334 in 2021.
The study found that the majority of suspects in both non-fatal shooting and homicide cases had been previously arrested and were known to the criminal justice system. Homicide suspects had been arrested an average of six times prior to a killing while suspects in the shootings had been arrested an average of eight times before.
Portland saw near-constant protests and riots in 2020 following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, with protests spilling over into 2021.
The city saw at least 100 consecutive nights of protests and riots beginning in the summer of 2020, with businesses burned and looted, an "autonomous zone" established that resisted police interference, more than $2 million in damage to federal buildings, and business owners decrying their lost income and subsequent damages from the rioters.
The crime in Portland follows a national trend that showed murders spiking by about 30% in 2020 compared to 2019, marking the largest single-year increase in killings since the agency began tracking the crimes, according to FBI data.
Crime experts who previously spoke to Fox News Digital have pointed to the defund the police movement, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns that upended society, and the Ferguson effect.
"Certainly, the protests and riots mid-2020 after the death of George Floyd followed a pattern of spiking violence that we've seen following past viral police incidents, such as the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. This pattern has been termed the ‘Ferguson Effect’: police pull back while violent crime spikes precipitously," Hannah Meyers, director of the policing and public safety initiative at the Manhattan Institute, told Fox News Digital earlier this year.
The crime study examining Portland also compared the city to five "peer comparison cities," including Minneapolis, Atlanta, San Francisco, Denver and Nashville, and found Portland had the largest increase in homicides. Minneapolis – where Floyd was killed and where riots also raged in 2020 – recorded the second-highest increase in homicides, at 104%, from 2019 to 2021.
Crime in Portland has continued this year, with the most recent Portland Police data showing there were 39 homicides from January to May, compared to 40 homicides during the same time period in 2021. The crime issues have been compounded by police staffing shortages, with the department hitting a 30-year low of officers in November.
"I look forward to incorporating this important data and the recommendations from California Partnership into our future efforts to address gun violence, including Safer Summer PDX and beyond," Wheeler added in his comments Saturday regarding the study.