(From Mira Leti)

Just after Katrina hit, police deparments in neighboring “host” cities — San Antonio, Phoenix and Houston — accused survivors of bringing crime into their communities.

However, a recent study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice showed that in Phoenix and Houston there was only a modest increase in murders with San Antonio showing no increase. None of the cities saw a hike in auto theft or assaults, which would be more likely crimes done by those who lost everything in the hurricane.

Sean P. Varano, lead author of the study and assistant professor in criminal justice at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, said to the Houston Chronicle:

“Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix … all had pre-existing crime problems they have been struggling with for generations to correct. To say they created a tremendous spike in the crime problem appears to be an overstatement. To say a group came in to a place like Houston and created a crime problem seems to be passing the buck,” Varano said.

The report doesn’t include if there was an increase in arrests after New Orleans residents fled to these neighboring states. According to the study, 240,000 evacuees fled to Houston, TX, while 30,000 fled to San Antonio, TX and 6,000 to Phoenix, AZ. Did these cities see a spike in arrests of Black residents? Or was there an increase in the number of times police pulled over Black drivers? I’d love to read that report.

Until then, it’s important these myths are dispelled by cold hard facts.