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Forum at Marywood University to discuss violence prevention

Times-Tribune - 10/10/2023

Oct. 9—SCRANTON — A nonpartisan civic group called Defenders of Democracy will host a public forum at Marywood University on violence prevention.

The free event, titled "A Community Confronts Violence: A New Vision," will be held Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the university's Nazareth Hall.

Registration is required at

The keynote speaker will be Michael Fanone, a former metropolitan police officer of the District of Columbia who was beaten, stunned with a stun gun and dragged down steps during the violent mob attack on the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.

Fanone's book, "Hold the Line," also will be available for purchase at the forum, and afterward he will autograph copies.

Marywood's director of psychological services, Dr. Matthew Schaffer, an expert in threat assessment, will lead an interactive discussion about creating a community initiative to prevent violence in the region.

The forum aims to raise awareness and understanding about the impact of violence throughout the community and how to decrease risks and increase protections. Schaffer will address types, neurobiology, assessment and consequences of violence, while Fanone will discuss his perspectives on community violence.

The event also hopes to bring together various governmental, public and private entities, who are already working on violence prevention, to explore models that have been effective elsewhere.

The Scranton-based Defenders of Democracy was established last year to advocate for voting rights and voter registration, group co-founder Natalie Gelb said in a phone interview.

A Defenders of Democracy Fund was created last month to foster other civic engagement and support efforts to educate the public and promote activities that strengthen democracy. Information about the Defenders of Democracy can be found at

The Defenders of Democracy Fund was established at, and is administered through, the Scranton Area Community Foundation.

"The Scranton Area Community Foundation supports events that bring the community together to work on solutions that enhance the quality of life for all people in Northeastern Pennsylvania," SACF President/CEO Laura Ducceschi, said in a statement.

The forum on violence prevention "aims to convene the community to work on solutions that address violence within our communities. It is an important topic that has come up more and more frequently in community conversations, both locally and nationwide," Ducceschi said.

Munley Law is the presenting sponsor of the public forum.

Organizers hope the forum is a step toward devising community solutions to prevent all forms of violence, including school, youth, gang and domestic violence and elder abuse, Gelb said.

"We hope to have a violence task force come out of this," Gelb said. "We just don't want to talk, we want an actual plan of action."

Contact the writer:; 570-348-9100 x5185.


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