Hate and Violence Will Not Be Tolerated in Our Community. 

Here at CASS, we’re all still reeling from the blatant racist events led by white supremacists last weekend in Charlottesville. We took to the streets last night in DC to show that hate and violence will not be tolerated.

 

We *all* deserve to feel safe — white supremacy and terrorism have no place here, Charlottesville, or anywhere. But just yesterday in our own DC community, a man with a swastika tattoo harassed people at the Ramsey pool in Eastern Market and called a young Black lifeguard the n-word.

With the significant increase in hate violence in the District since Trump’s election — including white supremacist posters in Bloomingdale, it’s critical that we speak out against hate, but also stay strong and take care of ourselves.

Don’t forget to:

  1. Hydrate.
  2. Surround yourself with supportive people and loved ones.
  3. Unplug. It’s important to stay vigilant with the news, but it’s also important to step away from the AP alerts sometimes.
  4. Sleep.
  5. Breathe.

Together, we believe we can create a community that is safe for *everyone.*

Bouncer Steps in at Nellie’s.

Location: 9th & U in front of Nellie’s
Time: Late Night (12am-5am)

I was on 9th St NW and stopped in front of Nellie’s to call a car. A man exited Nellie’s and bumped into me, knocking me off my balance. I told him assertively not to touch me and he became angry, he yelled ‘don’t touch me’ back at me and walked a few feet away to his group of friends. I then heard him loudly comment to them that I “looked like a fucking dyke.” I responded that I was queer but it was a slur for him to address me that way. At that moment, a bouncer stepped in and told him that he needed to leave and never come back to Nellie’s. He denied the whole incident and she reiterated that she had witnessed it and that he needed to leave. I thanked her and then left as my car arrived.

I want to specifically shout out the awesome bouncer who did not hesitate to step in and stand up for me against harassment. She didn’t question my account or ask us both to leave, she called out his behavior and told him in no uncertain terms that it was not acceptable in that space. She definitely made me feel safer in a moment when I was upset.

Submitted 7/11/17 by “KS”

Do you have a personal experience with harassment or assault? Share your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. You can program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

“If I’m Old Enough to Be Harassed, I’m Old Enough to Protest It.”

Advocates for safe public spaces gathered in Farragut Square on Saturday, April 8th to raise their voices against street harassment and to support the Street Harassment Prevention Act.

Advocates and community members discussed street harassment prevention strategies, shared their experiences, and showed their support for community-based, non-criminal solutions to end harassment. CASS Executive Director Jessica Raven kicked things off with a welcome that emphasized an inclusive, intersectional approach toward ending street harassment. She reminded the crowd that harassment affects us all and that any “solutions” to violence against women that cause harm to other marginalized communities are not real solutions. 

This set the stage for Brianne Nadeau, DC’s Ward 1 Councilmember, to discuss the Street Harassment Prevention Act, a measure to educate District employees on street harassment and strategies to combat it. Councilmember Nadeau hopes to shatter misconceptions about street harassment and drive the District’s government toward cultivating safe public spaces through better awareness and training.

The need for such solutions and increased understanding from District employees – especially law enforcement – was emphasized when CASS’ 2016 Program Fellow Nona Conner shared her own experience as a black trans woman who survived violence in the summer of 2014. When Nona was attacked and stabbed 48 times, law enforcement officials seemed more engrossed in her gender than tending to her medical care. In a similar vein, Kiki, a black trans woman who works at Casa Ruby, shared her own experience when she was shot and police failed to adequately provide her with rapid medical attention. Sharing their stories with the crowd, Nona and Kiki emphasized the lack of attention that law enforcement and officials pay to women’s harassment – especially when women are black, Latinx, queer, trans, Muslim, immigrants, sex workers, homeless, or all of the above.

This intersectional approach was emphasized by Darakshan Raja, director of the Washington Peace Center and steering committee member of the DC Justice for Muslims Coalition who talked about the impact of street harassment on Muslim women in the face of state violence like the recent Muslim Ban.

Before breaking out to chalk sidewalks, community members from the crowd came up to the mic to share their personal experiences.  Those who came forward ranged from male allies working on CASS’ Rethink Masculinity program to a woman and her 11-year-old daughter who had recently been verbally harassed for the first time. Listening to these stories was a clear reminder that harassment affects everyone – people of all genders, young and old, and people across the racial, religious, and sexuality spectrums; as a result, we need to support one another and listen when discussing solutions to a collective problem.

The event concluded with participants sketching some anti-harassment language in chalk around the square and recalling our all-purpose response to harassment – “I don’t like it, nobody likes it. Show some respect!”

Learn more about the Street Harassment Prevention Act, and join our email list to stay involved. You can show your support for the Street Harassment Prevention Act with the hashtag #PassSHPA. 

Local Breweries and Distilleries Stepping Up as Safe Bars

We are just two weeks away from our Safe Space Jam and we have a lot to celebrate this year! We’ve trained 27 Safe Bars, facilitated over 40 workshops, and launched a new program called Rethinking Masculinity. What a year!

Last week, we sat down with two awesome individuals who brought our Safe Bars program to their bars. The program trains and empowers staff at alcohol-serving establishments to recognize and respond to sexual harassment and assault.

Brandy Holder from New Columbia Distillers and Lizzie from DC Brau shared their experiences with the program with us—and why they think Safe Bars is a vital program for their communities.

Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS): How did you get involved with the Safe Bars program?

Brandy Holder (New Columbia Distillers): I thought it was important for our distillery to initiate the training and to become a safe bar. Personally, I have been an advocate of CASS for a few years, and when the distillery received the email a couple of years back to donate to its annual fundraiser, I was the person to set that into motion from the distillery’s standpoint. Since then, I have wanted to keep up-to-date with the organization and try to be a part of it in some way.

CASS: Why was it important for you and the staff at the distillery to take this course?

Lizzie Palumbo (DC Brau): I felt it was important for my team to receive this training because many of them haven’t worked in the service industry before and didn’t have experience in dealing with problematic customer behaviors.

BH: The drive for me wanting to establish New Columbia Distillers as a safe bar was to make Ivy City known as a safe space and to experience the training with not only our distillery crew, but the majority of Ivy City alcohol-makers. New Columbia Distillery has never had any incident of harassment, assault, or any unsafe behavior from any of our patrons and we have been very fortunate with this. Our limited hours and use of space in our distillery definitely works to our advantage for combating that. But personally, as a woman, I experience sexual harassment/catcalling daily and it is disgraceful and uncomfortable.

When I can see an opportunity to make men (and people in general) aware of how much it actually happens, I try to show them. This training was a great way to gather some of the men from not only our distillery, but the other businesses as well, and have everyone talk about it, raise awareness, and learn new ways to notice signs and take action when we see something happening.

Safe Bars training at DC Brau

 

CASS: Brandy, you were able to bring a few other companies together for the training as well. What was that experience like?

BH: I was happy to coordinate and bring together One Eight, Jos A. Magnus, Republic Restoratives, and Atlas BrewWorks together for this training. I find it an honor that our industry folks — the people who are making the booze that you drink and who run the establishments in which you imbibe and have fun — want nothing but the best for their patrons. And the best means safe, welcoming, and inclusive attitudes and businesses. 

CASS: What outcomes did you see as a result of the program?

BH: I am very fortunate to have wonderful co-workers and the knowledge that all the other distillery/brewery crew are on the same side and will all work together. As a mixed group, we were able to have a great discussion and share our experiences with each other. Some even admitted that stepping up to harassment was harder for them because they do not handle confrontation well, but the training gave us many different ways of handling it, which I think was helpful to everyone. We learned so different ways to intervene: take folks out of the situation without being obvious, and know when to take it to the next step. The training allowed folks to stop and think about it and bring awareness to situations to which they may have previously not given any more than just a fleeting thought. 

Ivy City safe bars training
Ivy City distilleries training

 

LP: The training was really useful in establishing what behavior is and isn’t acceptable. It also was a great way to get everyone on the same page as far as how to handle difficult situations that may arise.

Several members of my team have let me know that they have already successfully implemented strategies they learned in the training. I think we all felt empowered by the class. We strive to make DC Brau a safe and inclusive space for everyone who visits, and the Safe Bars training and certification really drives that point home. Being a certified safe bar is a big point of pride for everyone in our company.

Both New Columbia Distillery and DC Brau will be helping to stock the open bar at the Safe Space Jam, and New Columbia is providing a gift basket for the silent auction, too!

We’ll be awarding the BARstander of the Year award at our annual event. Vote for the Safe Bar you think is doing the most to cultivate a safe environment, and get your tickets today!

Editor’s Note: These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

When a Fun Night Out Includes Active Bystander Intervention

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Time: Night (7:30pm-12am)

So, I had a blast dancing with friends last night!

But part of the night involved being an active bystander regarding some…very…persistent gentlemen that were trying to engage female friends that we were out with, who were not trying to engage them.

And while I and some of the other guys in our group did some of the regular circling the wagons space sharing to become physical barriers between our friends and strangers, when them turning their backs and/or moving away wasn’t enough of a message via body language, or even straight up telling them that they didn’t want to engage, I asked my friends for permission to say something to some of their would-be suitors, and wanted to share several of those things.

To one guy who was standing a foot or two behind one friend I told him that I didn’t know if he was doing it intentionally, but I needed him to stop staring at my friends because it was making us uncomfortable. He went away.

To another gent who cut in the circle between me and a friend, he introduced himself to her, after which I tapped him and introduced myself to him, saying my name was JR and I was her friend. I guess he didn’t really want to talk and he went away.

A third person, after lurking and several passes and attempts of talking to one friend, after she stepped away yet again after he grabbed her, I stepped up to him and said that I needed him to not touch or talk to her again for the rest of the night. He went away.

Granted there were many more instances when my friends dealt with things themselves, but I’d least try to check in to make sure that they were okay after. And I want to reiterate that the few times I did say something, I’d try to ask them for permission first, because I never thought that they needed or wanted me to intervene, but simply wanted to see if they at least wouldn’t mind if I did.

So I just wanted to share.

Submitted 3/20/17 by “JR”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. You can program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

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