Violence is Contagious and must be interrupted

January 7, 2021

Cure Violence Global strongly condemns the violence perpetrated at the US Capitol yesterday.

Within societies people may have different beliefs or different information sources, but we must all oppose the use of violence to address grievances, regardless of differences. There are other ways to address grievances and differences.

Further, we must all condemn – and not fall prey to – inciting or provoking speech – some of which may be incorrect, exaggerated, and/or emotion driven and meant to rile people up. We must – each of us – be awake – and be prepared to serve as brakes against violence and violent promoting speech.

Yesterday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol was violent and a clear attack on the U.S. democratic system. This system, although imperfect, was set up as an alternative to a society of violence. In this system there are wins and losses, compromises, and other chances.

Nearly immediately prior to this attack on the Capitol Building and the people inside, there was direct incitement by the outgoing President, saying “We fight like Hell and if you don’t fight like Hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” And “So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue . . .”

The president’s lawyer yesterday called for “trial by combat” and a son of the President, Donald Trump Jr said, “we’re coming for you and we’re going to have a good time doing it”. This kind of clear emotion driven violence-inciting speech has dire consequences and has now become actually common – in social media and in the mainstream media – and needs to be recognized as seriously deleterious and dangerous to all of us. Think about it. And it can be reversed. We can even keep our beliefs and not abandon our friends (or the social pressure we put on each other) – but be against the violence.

We all witnessed yesterday how the people that broke into the Capitol Building were treated by law enforcement — a sharp and dramatic contrast with how people of color are treated in crowds, at protests, as well as in their communities and homes. This further exposes the deep racial divide and lethal unfairness present in our society and highlights the urgent need to change the disparity in how different segments of our population are treated. Cure Violence Global strongly condemns racism, a longstanding poison within the country, and is committed to working to stop it.

So now – urgently – it has become essential and continuously necessary to be even more vigilant about potential violence, hate speech, and incitement.

Leaders of all sorts – political and otherwise – must all use our influence to help shift this norm of violence before it becomes an accepted way of addressing grievances. We must set up more opportunities, recruit more messengers, and develop more systems in the public, online, and in our communities to object to all speech and actions that suggest, encourage, incite, reinforce, or use violence.

Finally, we know what happened yesterday was disturbing. Please take time for yourself today – and every day – to imagine a peaceful society, and to decide on ways you and people around you can contribute to a more peaceful and livable society for the sake of ourselves and our families.