Cincinnati Mayor Cranley blames city’s 2020 crime on DeWine’s ‘disastrous shutdown’ in tweet

Cranley initially supported DeWine’s shutdown, but later criticized the governor after gun violence skyrocketed in 2020.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley blamed a 2020 spike in the city's homicides on Gov. Mike DeWine's...
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley blamed a 2020 spike in the city's homicides on Gov. Mike DeWine's "disastrous" COVID-19 shutdown.(Albert Cesare/The Enquirer)
Published: Jun. 3, 2021 at 4:52 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - COLUMBUS – Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley blamed a 2020 spike in the city’s homicides on Gov. Mike DeWine’s “disastrous” COVID-19 shutdown – a shutdown he initially supported and imposed on City Hall himself, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.

Cranley, who is pursuing a Democratic bid for governor, responded to a jab from the Ohio Republican Party about Cincinnati’s high rate of homicides and violent crime in 2020 by writing: “DeWine caused the 2020 spike in crime with his disastrous shutdown.”

But in an interview, Cranley said he supported early health orders from DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton to close businesses and later require masks. He had a problem later when a curfew on bars and restaurants fueled a spike in crime at after-parties in rentals and at Grant Park.

“I supported the shutdowns in March because we were taking a pause to figure out what this was all about and gathering evidence and detail,” Cranley said. “But obviously, as time went on we had a lot more information, a lot more facts, a lot more understanding.”

What caused Cincinnati’s crime spike?

Cincinnati did have a violent year in 2020. The city recorded 94 homicides in 2020, a 28.8% increase from 2019 and the city’s deadliest in recent history, according to Cincinnati Police Department’s year-end crime review.

Police reported a 2.4% increase in violent crime compared to 2019; shootings also increased compared to recent years. On the other hand, property crime dropped 12.6%, leading all crimes to fall 10.6%.

But were DeWine’s stay-at-home orders to blame for Cincinnati’s violence?

In April 2020, Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said that “natural surveillance” was hampered by the stay-at-home order. In other words, fewer people were walking around to witness possible crimes and report them.

In late August, Isaac and Cranley asked DeWine to lift the city’s curfew on bars and restaurants, saying some violence was tied to after-parties at rental properties in the city. But DeWine declined, saying he couldn’t legally cut Cincinnati out of the curfew and other mayors, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley, supported the early last call.

“This was the problem with Gov. DeWine, his heavy-handed approach. I had no problem with the mayors of Dayton or Columbus deciding what’s best for their communities,” Cranley said. “I never accepted that local communities shouldn’t be allowed to make the best judgment for themselves.”

Cranley and Isaac didn’t simply wait on DeWine. They also allocated $1 million for police overtime and adding an attorney to prosecute gun-related crimes.

‘You know you’re running in a Democratic primary, right?’

Cranley received criticism for his Thursday tweet online from fellow Democrats with one asking: “You know you’re running in a Democratic primary, right?”

Some pointed out the apparent hypocrisy because Cranley’s support for the COVID-19 shutdown was well-documented:

“These are extraordinary times and I want to thank all who are staying home and doing what they need to do to flatten the curve,” Cranley tweeted on March 30, 2020. “I know it is difficult. Please continue to practice the behavioral precautions that will get us back to normal faster.”

Cranley also limited access to City Hall on April 1 and later closed it to stem the spread of COVID-19 following a rash of positive cases among city employees.

Cranley brushed off the criticism as partisan attacks: “People that are responding aren’t exactly without an agenda either supporting the Republicans or potentially supporting my primary opponent (Whaley.) I’m not surprised that people are taking it out of context when there’s a clear history of what I said.”

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