Washington University Students Debunk St. Louis Crime Statistics With Rap Song (VIDEO)

Categories: Crime

st-louis-crime-rap.jpg
via YouTube
Liz Schranck and Vanessa Woods.
Last week, we wrote about yet another national crime ranking that put St. Louis at the top -- which, unsurprisingly, the mayor and the police department were quick to dismiss. Their argument is that the methodology of these rankings is inherently flawed and that these reports make the metro area seem a lot more dangerous than it really is.

Turns out, if they had waited a week, they could've just sent out a locally produced rap video that conveys their pro-St. Louis message a whole lot more colorfully!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen: We officially have the first-ever rap about St. Louis crime stats...and that tricky city-county divide. It's the St. Louis Crime Report.

"Yes, there is crime in the city. There is crime in every city," Liz Schranck, one of the Washington University students behind the video, tells Daily RFT. "But let me break it down for you. Let me break it down for you in a rap."

See also:
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- Map Confirms Murder Concentration; City Urges a Look on the Bright Side
- Dangerous American Neighborhoods: Chief Slams Study With St. Louis at Top

Here's the video, which began making the rounds yesterday after three Wash. U. students posted it as part of an online journalism class project.

Schranck, 23, made the video with Vanessa Woods (the ballerina in the footage) and Madeline Yochum, who filmed it. All three are communications and journalism students at Wash. U., and they made the video for a class taught by Post-Dispatch reporter Jeremy Kohler.

Kohler had the idea that the three do some sort of video about crime in the city, and Schranck thought a rap might be fun.

So they decided to pick apart St. Louis' notorious high ranks in annual crime reports.

liz-schranck.jpg
Courtesy of Liz Schranck
Liz Schranck.

"What if we make the rap about the perception of St. Louis as this super dangerous city?" says Schranck, who grew up in the county and is a singer-songwriter who goes by the name Lizzie Weber.

They did research on the data and came up with the goofy video above that relays some of the central arguments of the city and its defenders.

That is that the city of St. Louis is entirely separate from the county and thus gets unfairly compared to other metro areas that do include their suburban counterparts in the final numbers. The rap also mentions that different kinds of crimes aren't properly weighted in the ranks ("Are auto-theft and murder the same?") and that the blanket FBI stats ignore a variety of factors.

Continue for more of our interview and for the full lyrics.

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28 comments
JTothfromHoth
JTothfromHoth

I like the facts, but I couldn't get past the raps.

Emily Beck
Emily Beck

Repeating a flawed statistical conclusion doesn't make the conclusion any less flawed, Brian.

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

The city is defined by its boundaries. You can call them imaginary lines all you want but they exist none the less. We could increase the boundaries of Chicago to include more rural areas too. But that's not what these statistics are based on.

Adam Woodson
Adam Woodson

No, Brian, that's not right. I'm talking about changing an imaginary line on a map, and that's all. Depending on how I draw this imaginary line I can use the same statistic to claim that a region is either safer or more dangerous, but the region itself has not physically changed. Try reading more carefully. You, on the other hand, are talking about changing physical attributes. Do you really not see the difference?

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

So...to recap...If you change everything then everything changes. Is that right? In your hypothetical larger St Louis only the good neighborhoods get larger. But that's not how it works. Did you know I play basketball just as well as Lebron James? Yep, it's true. All you have to do is increase my coordination, speed, strength, and basketball skills to equal that of Lebron James. Oh wait, but then I wouldn't be Brian Boyd anymore...I'd be Lebron James.

Adam Woodson
Adam Woodson

there's a strip mall a few miles down the road from UVA but i don't think that counts, Brian. anyway, which part of my math is wrong, exactly? (and keep in mind that i said "roughly". in other words, i rounded.) do you think, maybe, there are some nuances that get lost when you simply take # crimes / # people for two regions with different sizes and populations and try to compare them based solely on those two numbers? maybe? say we took different arbitrary municipal boundaries; lets shrink Chicago's down to the size of St. Louis city and wrap it around some of the worst neighborhoods in S. Chicago. "city" population decreases and # crimes stays about the same (since the majority of the crime presumably occurs in a handful of "bad" neighborhoods) so your chances of becoming a victim have increased. but all we've done is redefined boundaries. alternately, if we expand St. Louis city's boundaries in such a way that land area and population are equalized as well as possible with Chicago's, then St. Louis becomes the safer "city". i know you really want to believe all these rankings because St. Louis is just such a terrible place and all, but they're nonsense. even the FBI warns against using their crime stats to make oversimplified comparisons.

Emily Beck
Emily Beck

I went to WashU. I wasn't a kid when I did. And I'm certainly not rich. Stereotypes are silly.

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

I'm sure the college in the strip mall is glad to have him as a student.

Emily Beck
Emily Beck

Yes, I'm sure my friend Adam who's getting a physics doctorate obviously failed math.

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

Chances of becoming a victim: STL = 1 in 53 Chicago (the CITY obviously) = 1 in 97

Adam Woodson
Adam Woodson

and Chicago CITY still has roughly 9x the population of St. Louis CITY spread out over 4x the area. still not a useful comparison.

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

Cook county has more than 20 cities located within. Chicago is one of them. Therefore Chicago crimes stats are just that: stats for Chicago NOT cook county.

Adam Woodson
Adam Woodson

See Michaels comment below. I know it's a really difficult concept to grasp, but comparing crime stats between cities with wildly different land areas and population densities makes no sense. Most cities have incorporated their suburban counties, thereby diluting their crime stats. St. Louis has not; its boundaries have been fixed since the 1890s. Apples to apples, not apples to oranges. That's the point.

Jillian Ashley
Jillian Ashley

McKenzie didn't go to college. She can't spell performed correctly and is hatin on the smarty pants Wash U kids. Asshole.

Michael P Goggins
Michael P Goggins

Cook County is mainly urban and very densely populated, containing most of the City of Chicago and many suburbs.

Michael P Goggins
Michael P Goggins

There are over 130 incorporated municipalities in Cook County, the largest of which is Chicago, which makes up approximately 54% of the population of the county.

Lena May
Lena May

Very good video, the girls did a good job. You couldn't pay me enough to move into the squeaky clean burbs.

Michael P Goggins
Michael P Goggins

That is the point sherlock!! All of the other cities already have their immediate suburban areas included in their stats, like all of Jackson County and not just downtown KC. Buy a clue!!

Michael Allen
Michael Allen

No one wants to live in the city? You're right, the white flight cultural void of the county is so much better.

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

Lets merge Chicago crime statistics with Weaton and Bolingbrook Illinois too. Then their crime rate can go down as well!

Brian Boyd
Brian Boyd

Listen to the words? Why bother. They're wrong. "If you include to county the crime rate goes down." No shit Sherlock. That's why no one wants to live in the city. The crime rate of any city goes down if you start including a larger area. Duh.

KeshKat Knk
KeshKat Knk

Thanks for sharing, this is true, glad they shed some light on it and it took true research to get detailed facts! Instead of bashing who did it, why not listen to the words...

McKenzie Erin
McKenzie Erin

Preformed by a bunch of spoiled rich wash U kids.... yeah.

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