SSW News

Learning How to Actively Standby

January 24, 2017    |  

Samirah Franklin recently tried on a new role for size: catcaller at a protest rally.

“Hey you’re looking good. I like those jeans,” Franklin, 19, of Sandtown, slyly told a young woman who visibly winced at the attention she was receiving. “You’re looking reallllly good.”

Several bystanders encircled the woman, in an effort to come to her aid, forming a human buffer zone between the harasser and her intended target.

Franklin and the “victim” were among 60 people who participated in a workshop on how to be a nonviolent active bystander on Jan. 20, at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Community Engagement Center. Through role-playing exercises participants learned techniques in how to de-escalate conflict and come to the aid of someone being verbally harassed or intimidated. (View a photo gallery.)

The training, sponsored by UMB’s Anti-Oppression Work Group in collaboration with the political action group Swam Revolt, was one of 23 taking place simultaneously at sites across the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, and the only held in Baltimore.