The Blue City Murder Problem

Recently, some on the Left have tried to advance their arguments by claiming that rising crime rates are due to policies pursued by red states. In response, Heritage released a new report that shows that Democrat policies in Democrat lead cities and counties are actually responsible for rising crime rates in these red states. Cully Stimson, a widely recognized policy expert in crime control, and deputy director of Heritage’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, and an author of this report joins us to explain more.

MIchelle Cordero: From The Heritage Foundation, I’m Michelle Cordero, and this is Heritage Explains. Recently, some on the left have tried to advance their arguments by claiming that rising crime rates are due to policies pursued by red states. Here’s former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on CNN.

Hillary Clinton: If you look at real crime statistics, which they’re not interested in examining, the states with the highest crime levels are states run by Republicans. That’s just a fact.

Cordero: And here’s Larry Krasner, district attorney of Philadelphia on a local Fox News Station.

Larry Krasner: These states in the United States that have a rate of homicide that is 40% higher are MAGA states. They are Trump states. I’ll say it again, the rate of homicide in Trump states as compared to Biden states, take all 50 of them, is 40% higher.

Fox News Host: You know Republicans say the opposite. It’s all the blue states.

Larry Krasner: Republicans lie. I mean, let’s just get down to it. Republicans lie.

Cordero: One liberal organization called the Third Way, even went so far as to publish a study arguing that Republicans are to blame for the spike in murders across the country. And that study was picked up by dozens of liberal media outlets. But facts are powerful and stubborn things.

Cordero: Heritage recently released a new report, a rebuttal to the Third Way’s report that shows that Democrat policies in Democrat led cities and counties are responsible for rising crime rates in these red states. In fact, in the 30 American cities with the highest murder rates, 27 have Democratic mayors.

Cordero: Today we have one of the authors of this report on to explain more. Cully Stimson, a widely recognized policy expert in crime control is the deputy director of Heritage’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. And he’ll join us after this short break.

Cordero: Cully, thank you so much for joining us. Okay. We have you here to discuss a new report that you authored with your colleagues here at Heritage. The report actually went viral, which is really cool. The report finds that high crime counties are largely governed by Democrats. Can you first talk to me a little bit about why you decided to write this report? Let’s talk a little bit about the myth that started it all.

Cully Stimson: Well again, thanks for having me on Heritage Explains. I love listening to the show.

Cordero: Thank you.

Stimson: And I love being on the show. So there was a report, it was more of a little paper, written this spring by an organization called the Third Way. It was clearly a political hit job, and it was entitled The Red State Murder Problem. And typically I don’t read things like that because they just come across as crass and overtly political. But then I saw that the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Politico and a bunch of other organizations-

Cordero: Paul Krugman.

Stimson: Paul Krugman wrote about it recently and I thought, geez, this thing is getting legs. Let me read it. And when I read it struck me exactly as I thought it would. And that is that it really made no sense because nobody talks about a state’s murder rate.
You can talk about employment rate at a state because that makes sense. You can talk about other indices of states’ strength or weaknesses, whether companies are moving to states or not, whether they have a low tax burden in a state. That makes sense. But crime rates, for anyone who knows anything about crime, crime is geographically and demographically concentrated.

Stimson: Everyone knows that there are bad parts of town where crime is high and decent parts of town where there’s not really a lot of crime. And that’s what the data shows. And so we read this report for what it really was, a sort of a political attempt at jujitsu, flipping the political narrative to try to say that Trump voters and Trump states have high crime rates.

Stimson: Now, anyone who’s had a heartbeat knows that the Republicans and traditional independents and sort of the Reagan Democrats believe in law and order and they want crime to be enforced. Right? They want the laws to be enforced.
So I sort of laughed at this at first, honestly. And then we realized we really need to dig into the data and rebut this. And that’s how we came up with the Blue City Murder Problem legal memo, because we crunched the data at the granular level where you crunch it. And here’s our report.

Cordero: So basically they blamed the right or Republicans for crime as a big picture in a red state when it’s leftist policies at the city and county levels that cause the problem to begin with?

Stimson: Right. Yeah. And so when you look at their charts and data, you would think that, oh my gosh, these so-called red states have a high murder rate, and they only focused on murder. But when you drill down and see that the murder rates in those states are driven primarily by the blue cities and counties in those states, and you remove those blue cities, it totally changes the chart.

Stimson: And so what we did is we wanted to see where the cities were with the highest murder rates. We wanted to see who ran those cities. We also wanted to overlay on top of that whether or not there were Soros bought-and-paid-for rogue prosecutors. And lo and behold, we found out what we found out.

Cordero: Okay, so in the report, there are these tables that list the 30 cities with the highest murder rates in the US as of June, 2022. New Orleans is at the top, Baltimore is second, Birmingham is third. Before I go on and on, and I highly recommend that everybody go check out this report, I’ll put the link in our show notes. Were you surprised by any of the states on this list?

Stimson: The cities? No, not at all.

Cordero: The cities, yeah.

Stimson: No, I wasn’t surprised at all because I’ve been a prosecutor at the local, state and federal level. So it was my co-author Zack Smith. And Kevin Dayaratna, the PhD statistician, has been looking at this data for a long period of time. And so when you see that New Orleans has a homicide rate of 36.8 per hundred thousand people, that’s not surprising. What we hadn’t looked at, and this is why this report I think went viral, is that 27 of those 30 cities are run by Democrats. Two are run by Republicans, one is run by an independent. And 14, in other words, half of those cities, have Soros bought-and-paid-for rogue prosecutors.

Stimson: And when you add up the dead bodies in those 14 cities, that’s 1,752 homicides or 68% of the dead bodies across those 30 cities. And the blood’s on their hands because their policies are pro-criminal, anti-victim and encourage lawlessness.

Cordero: Yeah, that’s really the crux of this problem, isn’t it?

Stimson: It’s a huge driver of this problem, really. First off, the left in this Third Way little paper tries to suggest that the crime wave only started in 2020. That’s just not right. Most people don’t realize, Michelle, that crime has actually been going down dramatically for almost 25 years, since its peak in 1992. And incarceration rates, which trail crime rates, have been going down dramatically since 2008. But around 2015, not 2020 during Covid, but 2015 crime rates started going up. At the same time, the first rogue prosecutor bought and paid for by George Soros was elected, Kim Foxx in Chicago. And then in every one of those cities where he installs one of his bought-and-paid-for minions, crime rates explode. And so crime rates are already going up in those cities where these rogue prosecutors were well before Covid in 2020.

Cordero: Yeah, that’s my last question for you. One of the lefts talking points is that Covid 19 caused or at least contributed to the general rise in crime, and that crime started during the pandemic. Did your report find anything to do with that at all?

Stimson: So the reason that the left’s talking points hit home with some people is there’s always a grain of truth in it. But that’s about it. And here, yes, crime went up after the George Floyd death in cities that had rogue prosecutors, or the toxic trio of defund the police or demoralize the police and rogue prosecutors. But in other cities with a real prosecutor like San Diego, Summer Stephan is the DA in San Diego, crime didn’t go up in 2020. It didn’t go up in other cities with real prosecutors, people who enforced the law. Crime was increasing in this country, in those cities, starting in 2015 and kept going up. And in 2020 there was even more of a spike, although nothing like the original spike in 2015 and ’16.

Cordero: Well, Cully, thank you so much. You had mentioned to me briefly that you guys are digging into this a little bit more. Is there anything before we end the show that you want to share with me that you’re finding?

Stimson: Well, yeah, I hope all of the folks listening to this get ready to buy our book, because Zack Smith and I have written a book about rogue prosecutors, how Soros bought- and-paid-for rogue prosecutors are pro-criminal and anti- victim. It comes out in March and we’re digging into the average number of crimes, especially murder, rape, robbery, larceny, motor vehicle theft, in the eight cities that we focused on.

Stimson: And we’re finding that compared to the average five years before they were elected, crime has exploded in these cities. So for example, in Baltimore where they had Marilyn Mosby, who just lost her primary. Compared to the five year average number of murders before she was elected, there were an additional 832 people slaughtered during her tenure. Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, there was almost a thousand extra people slaughtered over the five year average before he took office.

Cordero: Wow.

Stimson: Kim Fox in Chicago, well over a thousand. By the way, rapes went up dramatically over their five year historical average in many of these cities. Burglaries, larcenies. Car thefts have gone up tens of thousands in these cities. 14,000 some alone in Philadelphia over their five year historical average.

Stimson: So when Larry Krasner says to the media a couple weeks before the election, when asked about whether his policies have contributed to the rising crime, he laughed it of and said, “It’s working.” It’s obviously not working. It’s obviously causing death, rape, theft, stores to close, stores to shutter. Wawa, a convenience store chain in Philadelphia is leaving the city. Walgreens, leaving San Francisco. Shops in a lot of these cities are closing and leaving because they can’t keep their employees safe.

Cordero: Look at Union Station right down the road.

Stimson: Correct. Starbucks. Starbucks leaving because of employee safety concerns. And so these people are anti-American. These people contribute to the crime rise in these cities, and they’re laughing about it because in their mind it is working. They’re getting exactly what they want. And it’s a dystopian world if we have more of these people in office.

Cordero: Well, Cully, thank you so much for contributing this extremely important data and this report. We’ll be keeping an eye out for your book and hopefully you can join us when it comes out.

Stimson: Thank you very much.

Cordero: And that’s it for this week’s episode. I’m going to put a link to the new report in our show notes. Believe me, you want to check this one out. It’s a good one. Please help us spread this message and grow Heritage Explains by sharing our podcast with your friends and on social media. Thank you so much for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

Reporting from The Heritage Foundation.