The Corner

In Wisconsin Bombing Attempt, Link Between Mental Illness and Violence Once Again

Hours before Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s state-of-the-state address in Madison on Tuesday, police successfully thwarted a bomb threat. Capitol police arrested 20-year-old Kvon Smith after receiving information about a potential attack employing Molotov cocktails, which he had in his backpack at the time of his arrest. 

Police had learned of a video Smith had posted that morning on Facebook that depicts him preparing the explosives and issuing the threat. They arrested him as soon as he entered the capitol building. 

Smith’s arrest presents additional evidence about the relationship between violence and mental-health issues. As it turns out, his arrest this week is merely his latest run-in with the law. Last month, he was arrested twice — first in a fight with a city police officer, then in a fight with a county sheriff’s sergeant. Smith’s family has said that he stopped taking medication for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and that they had noted changes in his behavior. “That’s not the nature of Kvon normally,” Smith’s mother told Madison’s Wisconsin State Journal. “If he has his medications he’s able to function much better. It’s not him, it’s his illness.” According to his family, Smith checked himself into a Milwaukee mental-health facility on December 30, but continued refusing medication while there. He checked out of the facility last week, just a few days before his arrest at the state capitol. 

Though the incident was not gun-related, Smith’s inability to receive proper treatment, even after admitting himself to a mental hospital, goes to highlight the problematic state of mental-health treatment in America and its disturbing relationship to mass violence. 


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