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Forum Looks at Violence Prevention on Micro Level

Saturday's event at East Middle School focused on how each person can play a role in preventing the acts of violence seen in Newtown and the Oak Creek Sikh temple.

Those who came to Saturday's community forum ready for a fight on gun control—and judging by the NRA pamphlets distributed outside East Middle School, some were—probably went home disappointed.

The forum was a departure from many of the debates happening around the country and in high levels of government following the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Ct.

Five months after Oak Creek was shocked by the mass shooting at the Sikh temple, community leaders discussed how these events happen and the things any person can do to help prevent them in the future.

"I wanted to make sure this wasn't a two-hour discussion about gun control, because frankly I don't think it would have been productive," Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi said. "Guns were mentioned, as were many other issues that lead up to it. I think that was the best way to positively handle the problem from the local community perspective."

Scaffidi, who organized the forum, said he wanted to focus on the little things people can do to make a difference, rather than engage in polarizing political discussions.

To that end:

- U.S. Attorney James Santelle and former white supremacist Arno Michaels talked about the role hatred plays.

Michaels knows better than anybody about the environment from which temple gunman Wade Michael Page came. He was a founding member of the Northern Hammerskins, which Page joined in late 2011. Also like Page, he sang in a white supremacist rock band.

"In many ways, I set the stage and I created the environment that he came from," Michaels said.

Talking about his Serve 2 Unite organization that emerged after the Sikh temple shootings, Michaels said, "The most challenging thing we can face is to respond to aggression with compassion. ... We first and foremost challenge ourselves to do that in our daily lives. And then we invite the community and we invite students we speak with to follow our lead and also to inspire us. It becomes a really beautiful example of interdependence and compassion and all the things that I feel are most wonderful about being a human being."

-Marcia Williams of Brookfield-based Systemic Perspectives, which offers therapy services, said it's unfortunate no one got to Page when he was younger and stopped him from becoming a hateful adult.

"Each of the people that created violence across the country was once a child and raised perhaps in abuse or in a violent or angry household," she said. "That trajectory could have been changed if someone else outside of that family had been ... responsive to the child, and could have added another element of love or caring for that child."

-Professionals in areas like law enforcement and mental health need to do a better job of sharing information so that people like Page and Newtown shooter Adam Lanza are identified early, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said.

It's also incumbent on people to report suspicious behavior or people clearly in need of help, he said.

"It's upon everybody in this room and everyone in this city, if you see anything, you don't walk away," Edwards said.

-Mental health professionals said a very small percentage of children who have social or emotional issues receive treatment. They said most people with mental illness recover and go on to live meaningful lives, and just need to be connected with treatment.

The forum allowed the 100 or so people in attendance to submit questions in writing and, afterward, speak with panelists 1-on-1.

"It's almost like you want to put this all behind you ... but it's good to address it," audience member Ken Stauffer said. "There were some very profound comments here today. It was a good event."

Scaffidi said Saturday's forum is only the starting point of what will be an ongoing conversation.

"I've said all along this is not going to be an easy thing, but I think I tried to pinpoint there can be some easy parts to it," Scaffidi said. "The little things in life that make us more safe, make us more secure. Hopefully the public that was here got that out of it."

Bikes January 14, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Not one word about the camera crew that came to the American Legion Post 434 this past Saturday to interview Dan Daily, Commander of our local SAL Chapter, to get insights on hate crimes. The crew was from California and the interview will be part of a documentary on PBS. Thanks Patch.
vocal local 1 January 14, 2013 at 02:36 PM
"Scaffidi said Saturday's forum is only the starting point of what will be an ongoing conversation." Sorry Stevie, Saturday's forum was not a conversation. IT was not spontaneous nor was it interactive. Again, the public was not granted the right to step up to the mic and speak freely.The fifty or so residents in attendance were told what to think. Why are the authorities hiding facts and telling outright lies and promoting their own political agenda on the Sikh tragedy? Why are the Sikh allowing their loss to be exploited as a means to an end they themselves by their core beliefs do not support or defend? I had the opportunity to challenge Michael Arno closeted in a hallway not open to the public. He admitted he did not know Page. Did not know if indeed Page was a White Supremacist and I told him then he should not make the statements he made from the floor not the panel. I was very concerned with the statements from the unidentifed so called mental health expert who also spoke from the floor not the panel who claimed "Most" people who suffer mental illness recover. Not true most decline over time into true madness, separate from the thinking world but I was not allowed to challenge or present meaningful numbers and data. -Marcia Williams did not connect with the audience. We have all read the statements of Page's family. Yes, he had tragedy in his formative years, mom died, dad remarried and the family functioned as a unit not disjointed without love and care and concern
vocal local 1 January 14, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Chief Edwards surprised me with his claims that his officers deal with mental health issues on most calls. He did not offer any info on how his officers are trained and how they interact. He did not tell us that most often the confirmed mental health individual goes to jail not the mental health complex. What concerns me is identification. The school officers surely know the troubled kids in and not in Special Education. Will these very children become targets of undesired identification, attention and prosecution as I suspect is currently the case per reading of incidents at the HS that involve referral to muni court on charges? It is incumbent that residents report suspicious behavior? Oh Boy, Nazi Germany techniques that if employed will not bring harmony to Oak Creek, I assure you. He did not tell us where to report the neighbor kid who is trafficking money for the Muslim gas station owners as a part of his job or did I miss that part? I also suspect he down right lied about Lt. Murphy. He said Murphy was the best person to respond to the Sikh, not because Lt. Murphy is well informed/trained on drugs and trafficking but because of Murphy's experience in the Marines when he was in Afghanistan and India. Murphy's been on the force for over twenty years. Prior he was a security guard. Chief Edward’s claims do not fit the timeline.
Be Logical January 15, 2013 at 02:41 AM
Rosemary, First, there were 150 people in attendance who felt the event was informative...I was one of them. There was no hidden agenda. The people that spoke on mental health care issues were educated in their fields of expertise. You need to stop with the conspiracy theories. I think you're the only person in the country who thinks the OC police dept didn't handle the Sikh tragedy in the best way possible. The overall message was "do something positive for your community"..... Guess you didn't get that.
vocal local 1 January 15, 2013 at 06:56 AM
Ok Stevie. There were 47 NRA pocket fact sheets distributed. You didn't have a sign in sheet perhaps next time you need to consider having one so you don't inflate your ego X's 3. The last time we had a disagreement it was over numbers also. You didn't understand that you couldn't add the same population twice to a total and inflate the numbers that time either now did you? The state of the nation's mental health is in crisis. Could it be as related to the witch doctors treating the problem? Might as well call in the para-psychologist and we can all have our hands read and our horoscope told at the next brain washing, informational meeting. Conspiracy Theory? Do you really expect the readers to believe that Chief Edward's was in charge of the Temple Shooting? Homeland Security/The Patriot Act negates your claim. If you remember correctly, Chief Edwards was off the day of the Temple Tragedy. Further, by the time he returned the FBI was in total control. IS THIS CONSPIRACY? If you believe to sweep the investigative facts under the rug was the best way possible to handle the event then your part of the on-going problem. I believe in Transparency. Now if you wish to discuss the FBI and tell me what a great agency it is parroting Mr. James Santelle's praise of Holder and the agency I'll laugh in your face considering fast and furious and Too Big to Jail. I try to do positive things for my community. I believe in voice and choice. I'm not ratting out my neighbor or his children.
Be Logical January 15, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Not sure why you addressed my comments to the mayor. I actually counted the people there. I am not the mayor, so your detective skills are lacking.
vocal local 1 January 15, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Not important. You actually counted? By ones, fives or tens? Oh, 3's as you counted 150 and 3X50=150. Even the article reads 100. I wrote apx 50 residents in attendance. Are you counting the panel members, the cops, the custodian, all the city employee's and spouses, the press, and the out of towners? Even then you'd be hard pressed to come up with 150. Did you learn to count in OC schools? I'm starting to hear whispers that the problem in our schools is the lower level intelligence student majority staff is trying to educate which may account for a 63% cut off for a D and our lower end curriculum average. used to be anything below 70 was a F and we had higher average curriculum standards. Now what to you have to say to this math wizard?
Be Logical January 17, 2013 at 05:51 PM
I counted everyone in the room. Honestly, I counted 147, and rounded, so I guess in your world that would mean I lied. It will be interesting to hear what your plans are for school board since you have previously stated that all the schools should be closed and students do distance learning.
vocal local 1 January 18, 2013 at 07:38 AM
I didn't say there were not 100 or as you claim 147 people at the informational session. I said there were only 50 residents and they were mostly seniors. The majority of the residents choose to go to the High School for the band thing. That parking lot was filled. Middle School had lots of empty parking space now didn't it. How do you like the rumors of Recall? The residents may be slow to grasp what is going on as all discussion and planning took place behind closed doors but now that the plans have been finalized with legal contracts and made public the public is standing up. Time to clean house is my take. OC could have been an independent community without shared state aid but city officials decided to be greedy and put us into big time debt to receive state aide thus bow to Madison's directives and sell out of the city to We Energy. Very Very Risky, Elected officials should not vote against the voice of the public which here in OC they do. The council is so confused by all the gibberish they don't even know the financials. IF your not Scaffidi then I don't know who you are which places me at an unfair disadvantage more of OC ideology. Don't Tread On Me.
Be Logical January 21, 2013 at 01:40 AM
Don't threaten me.

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