Susan Lee’s words to Salisbury City Council emphasize that we don’t have to look at “either/or”when we address violence. Doing things differently can be a positive practice of intention that includes the authentic voice of community members as well as governmental agencies and nonprofits. 

Good evening, My name is Dr. Susan Lee and I’m speaking tonight in favor of City Council becoming more actively involved in multiple approaches to address violence.

Of course, this means doing things differently. Violence can no longer be addressed outside of its deep connections to systemic root causes: poverty, food scarcity, unaffordable housing, lack of economic opportunity and mobility, mental illness, substance abuse, and the disproportionate impact of incarceration.

We must intentionally employ a wide-angle equity lens that evaluates policies, procedures and practices in all of these areas to specifically identify how they intersect with violence. This requires governmental and nonprofit agencies to venture beyond their silos to enact challenging, complex solutions that result from asking challenging, complex questions. Among them may be:

  • How does criminalization of youth and economically marginalized citizens connect with violence?
  • How can providing economic opportunities and implementing restorative justice create deep level changes in our community?
  • To engage more voices: When will city departments move beyond agenda-based focus groups, unilaterally convened community meetings , and increase the limited impact of volunteer efforts on boards & commissions?

Violence can no longer be addressed by governmental and nonprofit agencies without fully including the voices of community members with first hand, lived experience of violence and its root causes. We must engage in intentional, comprehensive, consistent and data-based oversight, evaluation and process-oriented program development that centers the voices of those most impacted by violence. Cure Violence is a program that does just this. I look forward to it becoming one of multiple approaches the city helps implement to reduce violence and to address the systemic, root causes of violence.

Susan Lee