40 days of nonviolence fails here

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2008

The issue:

Selma is in the middle of 40 days of nonviolence in honor of the Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Our position: The police blotter and recent news indicates that the 40 days of nonviolence has failed.

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We see it over and over in the police incident reports and on the jail docket: domestic violence, assault, harassment.

While the degrees vary, the result is someone is hurt by someone else in a violent way.

On Thursday, we saw children fighting in the streets outside a local high school. School officials have called for more security.

That&8217;s like putting an adhesive bandage on a gash to the bone.

On Friday, we saw angry shoppers involved in a melee outside a store that offered bargains on various electronic devices. Someone called police afraid people would be injured.

Nearly a week ago, parents rushed to a local skating rink on a Saturday night because of a fight. Selma police had to call for help from the Dallas County Sheriff&8217;s office. One of the deputies warned a bystander to watch out because people had thrown rocks at authorities.

We&8217;re in the middle of 40 days of nonviolence proclaimed by Mayor James Perkins Jr. in memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On Saturday, some people gathered and held a day of ballgames to honor the idea.

Others, very few others, have held roundtables to discuss violence and anger management.

While well-intentioned, those events have fallen short of the mark.

Like so many of the programs that come from City Hall, this one is like so much cotton candy &8212; it&8217;s sweet and pretty, but does not have any substance.

Rallies and ballgames do not stop violence. King taught us that those things are symbolic.

The way to stop violence is to instill respect for rules and authority in people. This begins with children.

Children will listen. They will imitate what they see and hear.

Eventually, those things that are copied will become habit.

If mom and dad beat up on each other and the kids, you can just about wager the same thing will happen in the next generation.

If school officials and city officials bicker among themselves and fingerpoint and backbite and gossip, children will see and do.

Forty days of nonviolence?

Let&8217;s make it real.

Enforce curfews for teenagers out on the street. Make sure they get home and cite their parents if they don&8217;t stay there.

Walk the streets in the late morning and early afternoon picking up those children who do not go to school.

Make the husband who beats up his wife or the wife who beats up her husband go to jail. Then require that they take anger management classes provided by a non-profit agency here in town.

Until the gunshots reported to police each night all over Selma stop; until the hitting; until the public infighting among grown-ups in charge; until all this stops, the 40 days of nonviolence will have failed.