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New Report Analyzes Human and Economic Costs of Political Violence in the United States

WASHINGTON--The health of American democracy requires strategic investment in community-led solutions that combat political violence and mitigate its cost to society according to a new report released today by Democracy Fund.

“The insurrection on January 6th showed us just how serious the threat of political violence has become”

The Costs of Political Violence in the United States —And the Benefits of Investing in Communities examines the human and economic harm caused by politically motivated acts of violence and the peace-building strategies that prevent, respond to, and support recovery from hate crimes, terrorism, extremism, armed protests, and excessive use of force by law enforcement.


"When political violence happens, it is right and proper that we first focus on the human cost, that is the loss of life and physical injury,” said the report’s author Andrew Blum, PhD, executive director of the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. “In the aftermath of these incidents, however, communities also wrestle with significant economic costs, including the radiating impact of grief and trauma, damage to property and lost revenue resulting from the disruption of economic activity. There is much that can and must be done to mitigate these impacts,” he says.


Following the Boston Marathon bombing, it is estimated that the city lost between $250 million and $330 million when it shut down for one day due to the manhunt for the bombers. In Portland, one 2019 riot cost downtown businesses over $3 million in lost revenue.1 And the psychological costs are also great: the Virginia Tech attack created roughly 600 cases of PTSD, which could add up to about $4 million in potential treatment costs for just one year.

The report argues that funders committed to strengthening American democracy can provide the antidote to political violence by investing in whole-of-society solutions and the infrastructure of collaboration that builds community resilience in six key areas: engaged leadership, social trust, social relationships, preparedness, place attachment (when members care about their community), and collective efficacy (when members believe they can change their community for the better).


“The insurrection on January 6th showed us just how serious the threat of political violence has become,” said Joe Goldman, president of Democracy Fund. “Our democracy demands not just accountability for the many costs, but a stronger dedication to the long-term work of preventing violence in the first place by creating strong, connected communities.”

For more information and to download the full research report and accompanying infographic, visit https://democracyfund.org/costs-of-political-violence.


To request an interview with the report’s author Dr. Andrew Blum or with Nadia Firozvi, associate director for the Just and Inclusive Society Project at Democracy Fund, contact Arron Neal at 213-568-3334 or arron@mission.partners.


ABOUT DEMOCRACY FUND

Democracy Fund is a foundation working to defend American democracy and challenge it to be more open and just. Created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar, Democracy Fund has made more than $150 million in grants to support free and fair elections, a vibrant and diverse public square, effective and accountable government, and a just and inclusive society. In addition to grantmaking, Democracy Fund advocates for better solutions and works with partners to grow philanthropic support for our democracy. To learn more, visit www.democracyfund.org.

_________________ 1 Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, “Portland Proud Boys, Antifa Protests Cost Downtown Biz $3M, Group Says,” OregonLive, August 21, 2019, sec. Oregon News, Accessed November 1, 2020. Available at: https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2019/08/portlands-proud-boys-antifa-protests-cost-downtown-biz-3m-group-says.html.

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