What do you do when you see someone being hassled or worse because of their identity or views?
On Thursday evening, December 15, an audience of about eighty people attended a workshop led by MCCRC activist Kit Bonson at the Silver Spring Civic Center to find answers to that question together. Among the takeaways:
- focus on the target, not the harasser; de-escalate, don’t exacerbate
- learn what the target wants: “how can I help?”
- activating your smartphone camera is as simple as “double-clicking” the phone’s start button, for Androids, or “on + swipe left,” for iPhones. (Kids may know this by heart, but a lot of parents don’t. 🙂 )
After explaining some of the concepts of nonviolence and intervention, the workshop broke up into groups of ten, where participants and facilitators acted out scenarios as “target,” “harasser/bully,” and “intervening bystander.”
Some of the scenarios participants worked through included a woman with a hijab being harassed on public transportation, a trans person being hassled on the way to the restroom, and a Latino store clerk being berated by a customer. We learned to ignore or distract attackers, to recruit others as appropriate, and to check with the target to find out how (or whether) to help. A “Know Your Rights” brochure from the Montgomery County Hate Violence Committee, detailing options for hate crime victims, was also distributed.
Materials from the workshop itself will be made available at a later date. If you’re interested in hosting or participating in a workshop like this one, let us know using this workshop interest form.
We thank our co-sponsors, particularly County Councilman Tom Hucker, and ACLU of Montgomery County who arranged the room, as well as Peace Action Montgomery, Jewish Voice for Peace-DC Metro, Progressive Democrats of Montgomery County, Peace Committee of Sandy Springs Friends Meeting, and Just Peace Circles, Inc.