SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Mayor Van Johnson says while there’s a lot of talk about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, the real discussion should focus on how words led to violence.

“That happens in our communities. The difference is, is that then somebody else pulls out a gun, and they shoot,” Johnson said to reporters at his weekly media briefing on Tuesday.

Johnson says what we saw play out on the Oscars stage was a lack of restraint, a critical lesson, especially for young men, if we hope to curb the violence we see too often in Savannah neighborhoods.

“Although this was in California, it resonates here in Savannah, because that’s what we’re telling young people,” Johnson said. “They might have talked about somebody, but you don’t have to go and exercise violence. you can go, let’s talk about it later on.”

The mayor says Chris Rock’s reaction made him think about how he might have reacted to a physical attack, reminding Savannah Youth that it takes two to fight.

“This could have escalated to something uglier and to his credit Chris Rock, you know, kind of really finessed that, because it could have been a lot worse.”

Will Smith has since issued a public apology to Rock. Mayor Johnson says that too is a lesson that redemption isn’t just given, it’s earned.

“People apologize, and if they mean their apology and they’re willing to work towards that redemption, or whatever that is, I think he has a marvelous, marvelous platform now as an Oscar winner to be able to say and do things that will reach and resonate with young people around the world,” Johnson said.