We Spoke Out: Now, Let’s Keep Pushing to #PassSHPA!

We had a powerful day of testimonies at the DC City Council meeting on July 12th in support of the Street Harassment Prevention act (SHPA).  

“When I was 21, two men drugged me at a bar and raped me. If my bartender had noticed the signs of sexual aggression, or the signs of date rape drugs, my life could have been different. If another patron had known how to recognize the signs of two men preparing to sexually assault a 21-year- old man, perhaps I would know what justice looks like. At the hospital, I reported it to the police. After completing a rape kit, the first words out of my detective’s mouth were, “We have these gay boys that go home with each other every night, wake up with their wallets missing, and expect us to do something about it.” Discrimination, be it overt or subtle, leads individuals to mistrust the very systems intended to provide safety after a crisis. Leaving us wondering, where do we go for help? … We can ensure other people don’t suffer the same fate. Because this isn’t just my story. It’s the story of thousands — thousands of people face dangerous street harassment in our city.” – Adam Swanson

“The [Street Harassment Prevention Act] cannot come at more important moment. I’m more scared than I used to be. I am concerned that we are living in times with increasing violence against women and religious and ethnic minorities. The horrible event in Portland where fellow passengers were killed for standing up to a man who was harassing two African American women, one in a hijab, shows the importance that law enforcement and the wider public be trained to intervene when street harassment occurs, especially in ways that de-escalate a situation.” – Jennifer Bianca Browning

We’re still collecting all of the testimonies, but a few of them are up here.

The bill will broaden the definition of street harassment to include our most marginalized communities. And the SHPA will create mechanisms of data collection and training requirements to make sure that everyone’s experience of street harassment is recognized and addressed.

Here’s How You Can Help Pass SHPA:

1) Call your councilmember and tell them why you support the bill. Check your Ward. If you or your friends live in Wards 3 or 7, call or Tweet at your councilmembers and tell them to #PassSHPA. At-large members represent all of DC, so everyone should call and Tweet at Councilmember Bonds.

Here’s a sample phone script: Hi, my name is _______ and I’m a DC resident. I’m calling to ask Councilmember [Your Councilmember or At-Large Councilmember] to pass the Street Harassment Prevention Act. In a time of rising hate and harassment that disproportionately affects women and LGBTQ people of color, we need community-based, non-criminal solutions like education, awareness, and training to make DC safer for everyone. Thank you.

Here’s a sample Tweet: Harassment is on the rise in the District. As a concerned resident, I’m asking you to take action – #PassSHPA! [Twitter handle of your Councilmember or At-Large Councilmember]

And here is the contact information you can plug in:

  • Ward 3: Contact Councilmember Mary Cheh at (202) 724-8062 or on Twitter at @MaryCheh
  • Ward 7: Councilmember Vincent Gray at (202) 724-8068 or on Twitter at @VinceGrayWard7
  • At-Large: Councilmember Anita Bonds at (202) 724-8064 or on Twitter at @AnitaBondsDC

2) Tweet your general support.

3) Speak out against street harassment on August 23rd.

Join Us to #PassSHPA!

For far too many of us, street harassment is a fact of daily life. Street harassment, however, is more than just catcalling on the street. Someone might be targeted by a harasser for any number of reasons, including actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and housing status. With a significant increase in hate violence in the District since Trump’s election — including white supremacist posters in Bloomingdale just last week — CASS is more committed than ever to addressing all types of street harassment in our city. That’s why we partnered with D.C. City Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau to introduce the Street Harassment Prevention Act of 2017

The Street Harassment Prevention Act, which we affectionately call SHPA, will broaden the definition of street harassment to include our most marginalized communities. And the SHPA will create mechanisms of data collection and training requirements to make sure that everyone’s experience of street harassment is recognized and addressed.

CASS and our partner organizations know that we need holistic solutions to the problem of street harassment that rely on community-based initiatives rather than law enforcement.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Tweet. Join CASS for a Twitter Town Hall on June 29th at 8 p.m. to discuss street harassment in DC and #PassSHPA.
  2. Organize. Before the Twitter Town Hall tonight, join CASS and CM Nadeau at Sudhouse at 6 p.m. to learn how you can plug in to advocacy work.
  3. Testify. Share your story of harassment with the DC Council on Wednesday, July 12th.
  4. Amplify. Join our Thunderclap to share your support of the SHPA. 
  5. Share all of the above with your friends!

This is the perfect opportunity to engage in local activism and protect your friends and neighbors. Let’s #PassSHPA!

Remember DC’s Historic Roundtable on Street Harassment? What’s Next.

It’s been over a year since DC’s historic roundtable on street harassment when more than 40 diverse community members spoke out about their experiences with harassment in public spaces — on the street, in bars, on public transit, and in local shelters.


Since then, we’ve had an impactful year of growth in our programming with the re-launch of Safe Bars, which trained staff at 27 local bars in bystander intervention strategies, and a new phase of our awareness campaign on public transit with WMATA that feature our city’s most marginalized identities and encourage bystanders to speak out against harassment.

But what’s happening on a citywide level?

This winter, CASS convened the End Street Harassment Coalition, which will work to pass the Street Harassment Prevention Act, introduced by CM Nadeau. The bill will collect data on street harassment and make recommendations to curb this most pervasive form of violence. If passed, the bill will ensure that all government employees are trained to recognize and respond to harassment.

The original iteration of the bill defined street harassment as unwanted comments, gestures, or actions targeting someone because of their real or perceived gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. But the past year’s local high-profile incidents of harassment at Shaw Library and Banneker Pool, and especially the fall’s spike in incidents of harassment on the basis of real or perceived racial, ethnic, and/or religious identity demonstrated that we must broaden the definition of street harassment, collect appropriate data to assess the ways that different communities experience harassment, and recommend holistic solutions to prevent harassment from escalating to more severe violence.

The End Street Harassment Coalition, a group of about 20 local organizations, will work to form DC’s task force on street harassment in 2017, and we need your help.

Sign up here to testify in support of the bill. And tell your Council members that with this year’s 62% increase in hate violence across the DC area, we need community-based solutions to address harassment now.

Want to join the Coalition? Email sarah@collectiveactiondc.org!

“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. 

New Legislation Aims to Make DC Safe for Everyone

Discriminatory federal actions are directly impacting the safety of marginalized communities across the country and here in DC. In our own community, we’ve seen anti-Muslim harassment on the rise. Just a few months ago, America’s first Somali lawmaker was harassed and called “ISIS” in a DC cab.

And when Muslim communities are under attack, DC fights back.

Today, working with a coalition of local advocates convened by CASS, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau introduced the Street Harassment Prevention Act to tackle street harassment on a citywide level. Here’s what it’ll do:

  • Establish an Advisory Committee on Street Harassment with expertise in public safety, gender-based violence, racial and religious discrimination, queer and trans rights, immigrants’ rights, and homelessness;
  • Collect data on street harassment and the ways it affects different marginalized communities; and
  • Develop best practice policies for DC agencies to recognize and respond to street harassment.















“Anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and policies on the federal level have a direct impact on the safety of people here in our community, particularly those who live at the intersections of multiple oppressed identities like queer and trans Muslims,” said Jessica Raven, executive director of CASS. “This legislation will equip DC agencies to address harassment in all its forms and make public spaces safe for everyone.”

Thank you, Councilmember Nadeau and co-sponsors CMs David Grosso, Charles Allen, Robert White, Trayon White, Elissa Silverman, and Jack Evans, for introducing this comprehensive legislation that aims to address street harassment in an intersectional way!

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