Citizens in many of my previous articles I have railed against the continued destruction of history in this country particularly standing monuments. I have tried to inject some grounded accurate history into the debate. I also hoped to raise the alarm of concern about those who only see that destroying something is the only means to provide atonement or recompense for those injuries both real and imagined that were perpetrated by those of another era. However, having an analyst background I am aware of the traps and biases that may affect one’s work. So from time to time I step back and return later and check any conclusions with either the aid of others or better with empirical data.
So as an academic exercise I decided to see if I could apply hard numbers to a single aspect of the debate surrounding the toppling of statues and rather if the removal of such statues have in fact improved those communities. Now I freely admit that for me my arguments mostly centered on the often-erroneous history or lack of time perspective being attributed to the person in question, so I also admit that I did not try to view the argument on the possible benefits of any statue removal. I shall try abet in a limited fashion to remedy that now.
For this little challenge, I decided to use 4 cities. In trying to be fair and impartial I chosen two cites that could be considered “blue cites” and two that could be considered “red cites” and to use the crime rates of each city starting in 2020. While the march to topple statues had started in several places well before then I chose the year of rage surrounding the George Floyd protest.
We will start with Nashville, TN. Between 2020 and 2021 there was +4.07% increase in violent crime. According to my inquires the city has permanently removed zero statues and plans to return any that have been removed for cleaning or repair, however a further search to include schools and the state capitol building revealed approximately 7 statues, bust or plaques have been removed during this time. That breaks down as a .58% INCREASE in violent crime per statue.
Now to Portland, OR. Between the same time period of 2020 to 2021 there was a +24.1% increase in violent crime. While the city parks department list 5 statues removed a local article dated Dec. 28th, 2020 states that about 12 out of 170 sculptures were damaged I count about 9 statues toppled or removed to include a 120 yr old statue of an elk. This coincides as a 2.67% INCREASE per statue or an additional 92 violent incidents per statue.
Next up is Charleston, SC in the birth state of the confederacy. Again, there was a 2.4% increase in violent crime between 2020 and 2021. Per an municipal email only two statues have been removed which still gives this city a 1.2% INCREASE per statue.
Last, we go to Chicago, IL. Between 2020 and 2021 there was a 5.5% increase in violent crime. Now I have found an article that states that there are over 500 statues in the metro area and a special board convened at the behalf of Mayor Lightfoot has deemed that at least 41 are insensitive and should be removed. This list of the 41 is provided here. To date my inquires if any of these have been removed is still pending, however statues on the list is interesting and so as the stated reasoning behind some that were selected. At this time I can attest to at least 3 monuments being removed which you guessed it gives an INCREASE of 1.83% in violent crime per statue. It might be of note that in 2021 of the 700 listed murders 81% were African American while making up 73% of the total arrest.
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I am sure that there will be a host of detractors who will question the math or methodology or even the numbers of statues, to this I replay your absolutely right, the numbers are likely off. You see there no single entity keeping track of these monuments and the few that do only track those of their governmental level, City track city statues on city property not state or those on private grounds like campuses. There is also no single jurisdiction that I have come across that has a dedicated a reporting mechanism for any removal. I have found various entities that have tried to track such monuments but found ranges from 90 to almost 300. While all provide insight and a good faith attempt most were not updated or maintained. There is also the fact that here I used violent crime rates where I feel a better metric would be crimes that was based upon racial motivators, what the FBI label as a hate crime since most of these removals where obstinately based upon racial sensitivities. Yet again not every jurisdiction makes such distinctions, and I haven’t even tried to include the monetary cost.
Of course, another point that has validity is that Correlation does not imply causation meaning that in every example I used there was an increase in crime with a removal of a monument. One would have to prove that the removal is linked to the increase in crime; however, then the reverse is also true and if someone was able to find what I bet is a rare example of a city where crime has decreased and have removed statues one would still have to prove the two are linked. So, I admit I might have fallen a little short of my goal since the math and limited data points I used cannot absolutely prove that there is a negative net effect to toppling or erasing monuments but, it does provide a possible indicator or a glance of a possible trend for further analysis.
I will gladly revisit both the math and methodology if anyone can provide a more thorough list. I however hypothesize that the result will be like proving that a single person has directly benefited from the millions of dollars that BLM has raised. I challenge anyone to demonstrate proof that a community has been distinctly improved by toppling a statue. After all we can’t even conclusively determine even the number of statues then how can one ever hope to prove that their removal will benefit generations to come. Yet I feel we can probably conclude that peace and racial unity hasn’t broken out in the shadows of the empty pillars and stands where statues once stood.
Cade Logue is a military veteran, a proud Texan, a patriotic American, and a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative.
The views expressed here are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the site.