Mass Violence and Atrocities | Analysis and New Insights

The Escalating Risk of Mass Violence in the United States

October 2020

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The United States is at a crossroads in its history. The level of political violence already observed in the country this year raises serious red flags about the erosion of democratic norms and the growing distrust of peaceful political processes. While predictions of mass violence associated with the United States may sound far-fetched to some, astute watchers of political violence around the globe are sounding the alarm bells. However, risks are not determinative. Regardless of who wins the election, bold leadership and decisive action can prevent the accumulation of risk factors for mass violence leading to a loss of life and harm to US democracy.

Leaders and organizers need to understand the risks, triggers, and accelerants of mass violence and equip themselves with resources to respond rapidly and effectively as advocates of peace. The Stanley Center for Peace and Security and Impact:Peace at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice are providing several timely resources, including an analysis of risk factors for mass violence in the United States, a discussion paper recommending specific actions for national policymakers, and a system for connecting individuals and institutions to tools that can help to peacefully manage a period of potential crisis and violence.

The Stanley Center works to understand how to prevent mass violence around the world and build resilience against risks through informed policies and practices. Impact:Peace works to bring knowledge and evidence to change processes, amplifying efforts to build peace and reduce violence. It is people who shape the course of history. By identifying the specific actions that can reinforce societal structures for resilience and prevent violent responses or democratic backsliding, we can promote solutions for inclusive and lasting peace.

To this end, the Stanley Center and Impact:Peace are connecting government, civil society, individuals of influence, and concerned citizens with expertise in concrete tools to prevent violence and reinforce resilience mechanisms that uphold democratic norms. We facilitate the rapid flow of information by providing:

  • Community groups tools on non-violent resistance.
  • Mayors and local governments urgent guidance on language to calm rising tensions.
  • Advocates resources for seeking legal redress to armed groups patrolling streets or staging counter-protests.

If you are in need of tools to help in your network or community or if you have knowledge or tools to share, please contact Rachel Locke of Impact:Peace, the Stanley Center’s Kelsey Paul Shantz, and our consultant on this project Sam Kuhn:
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Review the resources below:

“I Didn’t Know If I Was Going to Be Seen Again”: The Escalating Risk of Mass Violence in the United States
James Waller
In a timely assessment, Waller offers a nonpartisan, data-driven analysis of the structural risk factors, as well as the real-time accelerants and possible triggering events, that signal the potential for mass violence in the United States. The analysis highlights a path forward to restore trust in democratic institutions, develop more inclusive narratives of memory, rebuild social cohesion, and nurture economic inclusivity regardless of who wins the election.

Preventing Election-Related Violence in the United States
Theo Sitther
Sitther recommends four key categories for immediate action that can be taken by policymakers to uphold the resilience of democratic institutions in the United States amid the threat of violence.

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