A memorial in Jackson, Mississippi, honors 28-year-old Akeem Nolan, who was fatally shot in July. The city shattered its homicide record in 2020 with 130 and broke that record again this year.

'We've seen lifelong friends kill each other:' How a state capital became one of the deadliest US cities

Updated 9:08 AM ET, Tue December 28, 2021

Jackson, Mississippi (CNN)Around Thanksgiving, this crisis-plagued state capital saw a series of shootings that pushed the year's homicide total past 130, setting a grim annual record for a city that over the last two years has quietly become one of the country's deadliest.

In the state's most populous city, a former Confederate stronghold that would later give way to thriving Black business districts and serve as a hub for the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, residents are now grappling with a gun violence epidemic that spiked at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and shows no signs of abating.
"We see lifelong friends kill each other, we've seen a son kill his mother and sister, have seen crimes that are based on social determinants and an inability of people to be engaged in institutions in which they thrive," Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told CNN during a tour of the city. 
The rising gun violence has further exposed the city's deep-rooted social and political problems, none with easy or tidy solutions. And everyone working against this wave -- from the city's civic, law enforcement, faith, and street outreach communities -- is competing not just with spiraling violence, but with a pandemic that laid bare all of society's inequities when it became ever more difficult to address them.
There have already been 150 homicides this year through December 21, according to police, nearly all of them shootings. The city's homicide rate is 97.6 murders per 100,000 residents, 15 times higher than the US rate of 6.5, most resulting from gunfire.
"When you get up to 80 per 100,000 in a city with more than 100,000 people you're dealing with a vanishingly small number of places with homicide rates that high," said Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Jackson is grappling with a gun violence epidemic that spiked at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.