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Stop the War Against Women

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Fighting Domestic Terrorism

Sexism KillsOn the weekend of November 16th, two young men were shot and killed in separate incidents in Santa Rosa, California. Both homicides were quickly dubbed "gang-related" (magic words in police lingo). The cops and the press were immediately breast-beating about community safety and the need to correct this threat to public safety before it gets worse.

Within days, Santa Rosa Police Chief Mike Dunbaugh began campaigning for a $1.5 million, 12-person gang task force. City officials moved swiftly, proposing increased hotel taxes, a special parcel tax of $40 to $50 a year per household, and other creative and expensive ways to give the chief what he wants.

Two young men tragically killed ... $1.5 million ... immediate police action ... hmmm.

In the Purple Berets' office, we have a notebook labeled "MURDERS." It catalogs the deaths of more than 25 Sonoma County women and a few of their children at the hands of their husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends or ex-boyfriends. At least 18 have died since the María Teresa Macias homicide in 1996 – a murder that, according to law enforcement, caused them to completely revamp their handling of domestic violence and made them "see the light."

Four of the women in that notebook died this year: Jeanie Lombard, Kim DeLongis, Melia Ranteesi, and Kimberly Ramming. These women died grisly, hate-filled deaths. Not impersonal drive-bys incited by hormones and someone wearing the wrong color or flipping the wrong sign, these murders were up close and personal – way personal. (For more on these homicides, click here.)

So why don't we see Chief Dunbaugh out lobbying the City Council for – let's see, four dead women, that must be worth $3 million – lobbying for $3 million for a 24-person domestic violence task force? And where are those city officials with their creative ways to come up with all that money?

Never happen. Even though it would be money much better spent, not only at ending domestic violence, but at ending "gang violence," under the current law enforcement leadership, that will never happen. Unless ...

"Youth Violence Linked to Aggression at Home"
Recently the Boston Globe reported on a 7-year study of youth violence. Conducted jointly by Harvard and Brandeis universities, the study's findings debunk the commonly-held notions that youth violence correlates more or less directly to poverty, race, and gender.

Instead, researchers found the most direct connection to violence in kids ages 7 to 13 is how much violence they've seen and experienced at home. The amount of aggression children witness in their parents is a powerful predictor of how violent the children will become, according to author Kurt Fischer, professor of education and human development at Harvard.

And even without prestigious university studies, it's pretty damned obvious: kids who grow up in violent households are much more likely to use violence as a way of solving conflicts or getting what they want. What else would they use?

By far the vast majority of the violence kids witness at home is violence against their mothers or step-mothers by her male partner. Fully one-third to one-half of all calls to police nationwide are to report violence against women by their husbands, ex-husbands, boyfriends or ex-boyfriends – more by a factor of ten than calls to report gang violence.

So don't be fooled by the hype. If the police, the press and city officials really wanted to stop violence in the streets, they'd stop violence against women in their homes. This isn't rocket science. It isn't even feminism. It's just common sense, borne out by every study, every statistic, and even acknowledged in police training videos.

Please send a letter to the Santa Rosa City Council asking that they instruct their police department to use their already abundant resources to stop street violence by fighting the real domestic terrorism: the violence women face every day at the hands of their intimate partners.

That fight requires, not millions more in tax dollars, but the political will to have police do their jobs and enforce the laws already in place to protect women from domestic violence.

And if the council really feels they need to raise another $1.5 million, how about putting it into more low-cost housing, not more high-priced and repressive cops?

Santa Rosa City Council
PO Box 1678
Santa Rosa, CA 95402-1678

January 2003


© Tanya Brannan, Purple Berets
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