Seattle Courant

Community Activist Campaigns Against Apathy

Stop the violence poster. Apr. 30, 2009
By Corey Kahler
April 30, 2009 10:04PM

“There’s this general apathy in folks,” he says, “Black guy killed so it must have been gang related. Oh well.”

To Salisbury it doesn’t matter what the reason is for a crime, it needs to be reported and the people responsible need to be brought to justice. With this philosophy, he became a stand out for the Silent War campaign for his direct approach of placing posters around Seattle neighborhoods that loudly proclaimed “Break the Silence!”

For Salisbury work like this is operating against the “chic” status of criminals that has been one of his greatest enemies.

“We’re all inundated with this mentality, this desensitization to violence, that is everywhere, parts of rap for sure, but also in media like The Sopranos.”

Salisbury sees the youth as the biggest victims of the numbness to violence and he has worked in Seattle schools, such Garfield High School, where after a recent shooting, he challenged the assembled students.

“Someone in this gym knows who had the gun,” he told them. “If you can’t report them, just don’t be around them.”

He knows that there’s fear of retribution for people who are aware of criminal activity, but he sees kids wearing t-shirts that say “Snitch is a Bitch” and it infuriates him.

“Violence is the same as all other crimes. If you saw someone molesting children in the park of course you’d call the police.”

In order to accomplish a “societal shift” away from this, Salisbury has translated his loss into a call for community service, rather than simply retributive justice. With his promoter-inspired “the crowd decides what’s cool” attitude, Salisbury believes that active community work by citizens on a consistent basis is the best response to and defense against violence.

To this end he has started WeWillDoBetter.Org to connect organizers with volunteers. Salisbury wants to change the “quick hit” idea of community service that happens with events such as Earth Day or students looking to pad their college applications.

While he doesn’t see a crime-free city, Salisbury does see one where everyone takes a part in keeping it safe. He knows that it’s a difficult goal to work against violence and apathy, but his attitude is optimistic.

“Everyday people are the purveyors of culture,” he said. “It’s extremely simple.”