Forwarded re Jonesboro hate crimes

Linda Purrington (
Sat, 28 Mar 1998 23:11:52 -0800

Forwarded by Linda Purrington <>

[Washtenaw, Michigan]
March 27, 1998

For Immediate Release

Contacts for further information:
Lore A. Rogers, Legal Advocacy Director (734) 973-0242, ext. 204
Erin House, Legal Advocacy Coordinator (734) 973-0242, ext. 253
Rachelle Smith, Legal Advocate (734) 973-0242, ext. 225
Debbie Levenstein, MSW, ACSW (734) 973-0242, ext. 226
Susan McGee, Executive Director (734) 973-0242, ext. 203


Staff at a local battered women's shelter are outraged and dismayed
about the coverage of the Jonesboro school shooting, saying that it
obscured the true nature of the crime --- that of violence against

"The crime is about men's entitlement to women in relationships.
It is about male violence against women and girls. It mirrors the
dynamics of hundreds of domestic violence homicides", said Susan
McGee, Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Project, Inc./
SAFE House. "I'm gravely concerned that everyone seems to have
missed it. Every day, batterers of adult partners threaten to
kill their girlfriends and wives if they dare to break up with
them or dare to leave them."

"Four girls and a female teacher were killed. Nine other girls and
another female teacher were injured," Rachelle Smith, pointed out.
Ms. Smith, an educator on dating violence, said, " Classmates of the
dead and injured heard Mitchell Johnson threatening to kill a girl who
had refused to be his girlfriend. He reportedly said 'nobody's going
to break up with me,' and told other girls that 'tomorrow you will find
out if you live or die.' This is the exact behavior we see daily in
men who batter their wives and girlfriends. We are missing the boat
if we address the issue only as one of teen violence in general, and
fail to address the overarching epidemic of violence against women."

Research and statistics on intimate partner and dating violence
demonstrate that male violence against women is deeply woven into
American culture. For example, a November 1997 Department of Justice
study of stalking reported several key findings, among them: (1) 59%
of female stalking victims are stalked by a current or former intimate
partner, (2) in 80% of these case, the female victims were physically
assaulted by their partners, (3) women are twice as likely as men to
be stalked by an intimate partner, and (4) 87% of stalkers are men.
Other researchers report that men who believe they are entitled to
their relationship with their female partners will typically
characterize the women's departure as an ultimate betrayal which
justifies violent retaliation. (Saunders & Browne, 1990; Dutton,
1988; Bernard et al. 1982).

SAFE House's Legal Advocacy Director, Lore Rogers, commented: "The
violence in this case was not unpredictable. Mitchell Johnson did
not get what he wanted from a girl. Because one of the injured girls
had rejected his advances, he vowed to kill her and other girls. His
violence was identical to what occurs when adult male batterers use
violence in retaliation for their partner's attempts to leave a
relationship." Ms. Rogers pointed out that up to 3/4 of domestic
assaults reported to law enforcement agencies were inflicted after
separation of the couples, according to a 1983 U.S. Department of
Justice study.

"If we JUST blame a 'violent culture', or we JUST work on banning
guns, the Jonesboro school killings will happen again, and again,
and again. To prevent future murders of girls, we must understand
the dynamics of this murder, and all the murders of women and girls
by male intimate partners. This should be a wake-up call to the
nation. All of our daughters are in danger." said Susan McGee.

SAFE House staff called for: enlistment of men and boys in the fight
to end violence against women and girls; prevention programs focusing
on gender, relationships and violence in every school in the country;
and massive media attention focused on the problems of dating and
domestic violence.

SAFE House will sponsor a brown bag seminar on how men can prevent
domestic violence on Tuesday, April 14th at noon in the Education
Center at SAFE House.

The Domestic Violence Project, Inc./SAFE House is a non-profit agency
in Washtenaw County, Michigan, which provides shelter, counseling,
support, and legal advocacy for survivors of domestic violence and
their children. Anyone requesting assistance can contact SAFE House
24 hours a day by calling (734) 995-5444.

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