Turning Anger into Action Walter Cronkite Is Host of `Victory over Violence' Documentary

By Lynn Elber Of the | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 4, 1994 | Go to article overview

Turning Anger into Action Walter Cronkite Is Host of `Victory over Violence' Documentary


Lynn Elber Of the, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


FOR A YEAR, producer Arnold Shapiro worked on a television documentary about violence in America. And, amazingly, he came away hopeful.

"Victory Over Violence," with Walter Cronkite as host, illuminates the grab bag of ways Americans are devising to fight violent crime - ideas that Shapiro hopes will catch hold with others.

The first two hours of the four-hour program air at 3 p.m. Sunday on Channel 5, with the conclusion at 1 p.m. Sept. 17.

"There are good things out there. They just need to be publicized," Shapiro says. "The whole four hours of `Victory Over Violence' is about people who have turned their anger into action."

Methods of prevention, to stop crime before it stops, and intervention, to immediately curb it, are detailed. Innovative policies and programs and dedicated people are the keys, Shapiro says.

People like Juvenile Court Judge Leodis Harris in Cleveland, Ohio, who forces even the youngest, mildest violators - like candy bar thieves - to learn the meaning of crime's consequences.

Programs like the one in Raleigh, N.C., called the Governor's One-on-One Program, which pairs juvenile offenders with adult volunteers who serve as friend and role model.

And determined community institutions like the Mount Zion Progressive Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, Fla., which works to improve the lives of parishioners and the neighborhood. One effort involves the purchase and renovation of former crack houses.

Viewers shouldn't let the possibilities overwhelm them, Shapiro suggests.

"We want to give people enough of a variety and enough of a choice so they could pick and choose what's appropriate for their community," he says. "No one's going to watch the four hours and adopt everything they see . . . it depends on whether - you live in a town of 500 or a county of 5 million."

But even small towns can have important lessons for the biggest, most dangerous cities. Shapiro points to Quincy, Mass., which implemented an anti-domestic violence program after a brutal crime.

"They made it their top priority and there hasn't been a domestic murder case in Quincy in 10 years," he says.

Shapiro, who has focused on crime in previous documentaries, including "Scared Straight" and "Kids Killing Kids," and who produces the series "Rescue 911," says he was driven to tackle his latest, most ambitious project.

"Every day and every night, watching and reading the news, you hear about acts of violence," he says. "You think, `How can it go this far?' Innocent kids being gunned down in the street and domestic violence. . . ."

"And after a while, you either - become so immune to it that it doesn't affect you at all, or you become so outraged by it that you want to do something. …

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