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Feedback 4/26

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[This post was updated on May 1 to clarify facts of a letter.]

Guns' threat to women

We are again shaken by a shooting in a school, this time in San Bernardino, the result of a domestic situation.

However, we should not be surprised; this happens daily in America, where more than 10,000 women in these same situations are shot and killed every year. Nor should there be any surprise that children were also killed by the abuser; that is sadly common.

When we think of mass shootings, we tend to think of massacres of strangers, as at the Pulse nightclub or in Aurora. Yet most mass shootings have a common thread: violence against women by men with guns. This is the everyday reality of an America with lax gun laws, while the NRA fantasy of shoot-outs in which bad guys are stopped by manly good guys with guns remains a statistical anomaly.

Studies consistently show that American women are 11 times more likely to be killed by guns than those in other developed countries, that most of these murders are committed by domestic partners, and that the mere presence of a gun in the home increases the likelihood of death for an abused woman.

Furthermore, even more women are traumatized by the threat of gun violence. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health report that guns are regularly used in non-fatal incidents of domestic violence. A study in 2000 found that "hostile gun displays are often acts of domestic violence directed against women." The intensity of trauma and instilled fear by direct and men's indirect threats of gun violence toward women should not be underestimated.

There is hope. Our New York state legislators can act on current proposals to stem this level of violence against women. One proposal is the Emergency Restraining Protection Order, a proactive process to remove access to guns from those in crisis, including those involved in domestic disputes who are in danger of harming others. This legislation would help fill loopholes in existing law, which only allows for reactive processes that often result in tragic results before they can prevent violence toward women. Provisions for judicial oversight and minimum standards are included, making it constitutionally sound.

As with any common-sense gun violence prevention, it will not stop all gun violence against women. But it is a step in the right direction.

GARY PUDUP

Editor’s note: We failed to do adequate fact-checking on Pudup’s letter prior to publication. As some readers note below, the accurate total of women killed by gun violence during a year is approximately 3000, not 10,000.

A new home for Colgate Rochester

On the proposal for a building housing Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School near the corner of South Goodman Street and Highland Avenue, a location the school's trustees argue would give it important visibility:

I find the "visibility" rationale puzzling at best. The viability or marketing- recruitment strategy of the divinity school does not hinge on drive-by visibility. Students do not enroll because they happen to see the seminary from the road and think, "Hey, that would be a good place to study."

There are existing buildings at the top of the hill that could be repurposed or even rebuilt, much closer to the chapel and other facilities that CRCDS would like to maintain access to.

I am a little troubled by the lack of specificity of what Giardino [developer Top Capital official Lou Giardino] calls "compatible use" on the first floor.

And finally, CRCDS will be a tenant. How long will its lease agreement be? What "compatible use" would be found for a new, three-story building in the middle of a wholly residential neighborhood adjacent to Highland Park? Is that the real reason we need a 130-space parking lot?

Bottom line: after sitting through the Top Capital presentation and hearing what the neighbors asked and commented on, my strong hunch is that if CDS agreed to remain at the top of the hill instead of building a new three-story building – totally inconsistent with the rest of the neighborhood – the opposition would vanish.

CHRIS ORR CHRISTOPHER

The arts' role in fighting poverty

Mary Anna Towler's recent Urban Journal ("We're Not Making a Dent in Our High Poverty Rate") couples support for the arts, unemployment rates, and residents' actual physical health in a single breath – interesting, because many successful inner-city revitalization efforts have centered around a community-based performing arts center, yet the arts go unmentioned in the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.

But not unaddressed.

The two-year-old Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance has worked diligently to bring music, dance, and theater education and performance to Rochester's inner city – with noted success.

As co-sponsor or initiator, we partnered with the City of Rochester to bring the RPO String Ensemble to an outdoor concert last summer on the corner of Joseph and Clifford Avenues (with a planned repeat this summer); featured the Garth Fagan Youth Dance Ensemble and the Rochester Latino Theater Company in outdoor performances; worked with students from the Eastman School of Music to bring performance to libraries and after-school programs; worked with the Memorial Art Gallery to bring inner-city residents to the museum: the list goes on.

Concurrently, we strive to renovate a landmark building on Joseph Avenue – now listed on the National Register of Historic Places – into a 280-seat performing arts space with a community center focus (www.JosephAveArts.org), and we are seeking a committed developer to work with us.

While the anti-poverty initiative addresses a number of important poverty contributors, the effort thus far has ignored a demonstrated major impetus to area re-vitalization: the arts. However, from within Rochester's poverty-laden inner city, there is hope for the sentinel performing arts center around which revitalization can occur.

NEIL R. SCHEIER

Scheier is president of the Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance.


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