USD Professor Releases Report Detailing Costs Of American Political Violence
Speaker 1: 00:00 A new report from the democracy fund takes a close look at the human and economic harm caused by acts of political violence and the aftermath of a riot or upheaval communities incur significant economic costs, not only grief and trauma, but also damage to property and lost revenue. The report also looks at the strategies to prevent respond to and support recovery from hate crimes, terrorism, extremism, armed protest, and excessive use of force by law enforcement. The author of the report, Andrew Bluhm, executive director of the Kroc Institute for peace and justice at the university of San Diego joins us with more. Andrew welcome. Speaker 2: 00:41 Thank you for having me. We Speaker 1: 00:43 All know that political violence indeed violence of any kind is destructive and can be costly besides the human costs, loss of life and injury. What are some other costs that communities face after a violent incident? Speaker 2: 00:56 As I was putting together this report, one of the things that really struck me is the cost of, of psychological harm and trauma. Um, after the El Paso attack at the Walmart, for instance, over 400 people applied for support, most of which, uh, applied for help with psychological problems. So really that was one thing that struck me is the scope of, of trauma throughout the whole community. After some of these attacks Speaker 1: 01:29 And your report analyzes what the costs are, how does knowing what violent events like the January 6th insurrection actually costs Washington DC help society? Speaker 2: 01:39 Well, really one of the core purposes of this report was, was to document some of those costs. So we could see that investing in prevention was actually a good investment. You know, if you see how, how costly these events are and also how cost effective, some of the interventions can be, you know, we really hope funders businesses, community leaders will be galvanized to invest in the kind of prevention strategies that can be used. Um, so we don't experience this kind of violence Speaker 1: 02:16 And, and tell us about some of your findings, you know, that economic damage can be extensive. Speaker 2: 02:21 Yeah. And one of the things we found was, you know, we, we see the property loss, um, you know, we see damages to buildings, but that's, that's actually a very small percentage, you know, of the damage, the real costs, uh, economic costs are lost revenue folks that can't go to work. You know, all of Boston was shut down after the marathon bombing. And, you know, the estimates are that that costs hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business revenue. Speaker 1: 02:50 The report cites psychological damages as well. Give us some examples. How do you measure them? Speaker 2: 02:56 You know, there's different ways that researchers have measured those. I mean, for instance, after the Virginia tech attack, um, they interviewed students and students were experiencing symptoms of PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder, and it was over 400 students that were just on campus during that attack, not even directly impacted. And so that's one way. And another really interesting finding in the report is they looked at emergency rooms after the horrible events in Charlottesville. And so many more individuals were visiting emergency room with psychological symptoms. So they could see that spike happening kind of in real time in the emergency rooms, after those violent attacks. Speaker 1: 03:44 And what did you learn about our own local communities and the impact? Uh, there was the Habbat of Poway incident, for example, Speaker 2: 03:52 You know, that's a very interesting example. You could see, you know, how the ripples of that attack moved out through our Jewish community here in San Diego. And in the report we talk about not just individuals who experience the attack or witnessed the attack, but the community that's targeted, whether that's the Jewish community or a migrant community and how that trauma is experienced at a very visceral level by the community being targeted. And you could see that, you know, in the Jewish community here in San Diego County Speaker 1: 04:30 Court addresses what can be done to prevent or mitigate political violence. You argue that investment in six areas is key. Tell me about those Speaker 2: 04:39 Really what, what all of that means, what those six things mean sort of together is that this is not a problem for just one part of society. It's not just a law enforcement problem. It's not just, uh, a social services problem. Um, what the research has shown is when all parts of society are working together, you get the most effective strategies Speaker 1: 05:02 In the area of social trust. Uh, it seems to be a particular problem today. How do we address that issue? Speaker 2: 05:09 There is no cookie cutter, uh, recipe, uh, for this kind of, for this kind of problem. But there is, you know, there is research that shows if you bring, you know, people from different backgrounds, people from diverse backgrounds, uh, into dialogue with each other, into contact with each other, and particularly if they're solving problems together, uh, you will build, uh, an increased level of trust. Um, the report also talks about the importance of police community relations. You know, obviously that's a very fraught topic right now, but I think, you know, the black lives matters protests. The George Floyd incident has really surfaced that issue in a way, um, that allows us to get to the heart of some of those problems. So what are the ways we can bring police and community together to work in a shared way on solving problems? You know, some of that is, is dialogue. Some of that is holding police accountable, uh, to some of the changes we want to see, but that's that kind of between a community and its institutions and its government institutions. That's another really important part of social trust. Speaker 1: 06:22 And, you know, another issue that we see, especially with the rise of extremist groups and conspiracy theories is that there's this prevalence of outright lies and misinformation everywhere. You know, what can we do when there are people who don't believe the facts, Speaker 2: 06:37 Um, in every community, there's going to be trusted leaders that people will look to, uh, to understand what's going on. Um, that could be faith leaders that could be community leaders that could be, um, government leaders. But so that's one, one way is ensuring trusted community leaders are empowered to provide accurate information. Um, the report didn't go as much into the kind of online environment. Um, there's, there's great work being done on how we create, um, less misinformation and online spaces. So obviously that's a key aspect of the challenge as well. Speaker 1: 07:20 I've been speaking with Andrew Bluhm, executive director of the Kroc Institute for peace and justice at the university of San Diego. Andrew, thank you. Speaker 2: 07:29 Thank you. It was my pleasure.