Yale Students Given ‘Grim Reaper’ Crime Survival Guides By Police Union

The flyers echo the "Welcome to Fear City" flyers of 1970s New York.
GERMANY - 2023/02/26: In this photo illustration, Yale University logo seen displayed on a tablet. (Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Yale University students were welcomed to campus with crime “survival guide” flyers featuring the Grim Reaper that were handed out by the Ivy League school’s police union.

The “Survival Guide for First-Year Students of Yale University” warns students about “shockingly high” crime in New Haven, Connecticut, where Yale is located, wishing them “good luck” alongside a picture of a skull in a Grim Reaper hood.

“The incidence of crime and violence in New Haven is shockingly high, and it is getting worse,” reads the flyer from the Yale Police Benevolent Association.

The flyers closely resemble the infamous “Welcome to Fear City” flyers handed out by the NYPD to tourists in the crime-ridden New York City of the 1970s.

Murders have doubled, burglaries are up 33%, and car thefts are up 56% in the seven months ending July 23, the police union warned.

City spokesman Len Speiller confirmed to the New Haven Register that “those specific data points are all accurate.”

“Nevertheless, some Yalies do manage to survive New Haven and even retain their person property,” the flyer said.

The police union warned students to stay off the streets after 8 p.m., to avoid walking alone, to avoid public transportation, and to stay on campus, among other safety advice.


City and Yale officials both blasted the police union for handing out the ominous flyers to incoming students.

Yale University officials called the flyers “misinformation,” as well as “disturbing and inflammatory.”

“This weekend, the Yale Police Union, which is currently in contract negotiations with the university, handed out misleading pamphlets to Yale students as they moved into their residential colleges,” Yale said Monday in a statement.

Yale officials said they “unequivocally condemn the irresponsible and reckless actions of those who chose to spread this inaccurate information.”

The school claimed that robberies and burglaries are down both on campus and in New Haven. Yale said the most reported crime on campus is the theft of laptops, cell phones, and motorized scooters that have been left unattended and unsecured.

“The university supports the right of union members to rally peacefully, but today’s leafleting both ran counter to the spirit of the day and detracted from the exemplary work performed by Yale Police officers, Public Safety team members, and their partners at the New Haven Police Department,” Yale said.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker slammed the flyer as “totally offensive” and “false and scary,” saying crime is down in New Haven since 2020, when many cities across the country saw a spike in violent crime.

“As the Mayor stated at the press conference, when you look most of the trends over time, crime is down,” said Speiller, the city spokesman, adding that you can “cherry pick certain data points to construct a false narrative.”

The 1970s New York City pamphlets warned tourists, “The best advice we can give you is this: Until things change, stay away from New York City if you possibly can.”

The New York pamphlets were widely condemned at the time despite the high levels of crime in the city.

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