The Times podcast: On the front lines of the homicide epidemic

A woman in a blazer poses for a portrait outside a mortuary
Michelle Pitts, owner of the New Pitts Mortuary on the north side of Milwaukee, stands on the front steps of the building.
(Sara Stathas / For The Times)

Milwaukee is in the grips of the worst violence in its modern history. There were 189 killings there last year — the most ever recorded, almost twice as many as the year before.


It’s not just Milwaukee. The nonprofit Council on Criminal Justice looked at 34 U.S. cities and found that 29 had more homicides last year than in 2019. What has caused this surge? How is it affecting members of the hardest-hit communities?

Today, L.A. Times national correspondent Kurtis Lee takes us to Milwaukee’s north side to explore the neighborhood’s history and present and to hear from community members: victims’ families, as well as a pastor, a retiring police detective and a funeral home director. He also reflects on how it feels to be a young Black man covering the deaths of so many young Black men.

Host: Los Angeles Times national correspondent Kurtis Lee

More reading:

On the front lines of the U.S. homicide epidemic: Milwaukee faces historic violence

A year like no other for L.A. crime: Homicides surge, robberies and rapes drop

Op-Ed: Homicide rates are up. To bring them down, empower homegrown peacekeepers

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producer Denise Guerra and producers Shannon Lin, Marina Peña, Melissa Kaplan and Ashlea Brown. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.