A diverse group gathered at the Visalia Friends Meeting Hall for a training on what to do if you are in a situation where someone is being harassed because of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation or religious beliefs. Hina Fatima, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), led the discussion.
There are several steps to take when confronted with a situation like this. Fatima said that “safety, support and solidarity” are the fundamental guidelines to follow.
“De-escalation is the safest way of responding,” she said. “Be aware of how your intervention will affect the safety of the person involved in the situation.”
Evaluate the situation, make sure you have an exit plan and avoid becoming an additional target of the hate crime. Do not engage with the abuser, but rather ask the targeted person if they want your help. “Ask how you can best help them and ask before you touch them,” Fatima said.
The next step is to interact with the targeted person and take the attention away from the abuser. Fatima said when she was first introduced to this training her instinct was to jump in and confront the abuser, but she now understands why de-escalation is a better option. According to Fatima, you are not there as a savior but in solidarity with the targeted person.
This event was organized by the Central Valley Partnership, the San Joaquin Valley Media Alliance and the Community Alliance newspaper in coordination with several community groups.
The next in a series of Stop the Hate events will be at the Fresno Center (4879 E. Kings Canyon Rd.) on Jan. 24, 2024. There will be more details about this event in the January issue of the Community Alliance newspaper.
This event was made possible by a grant from the California State Library under the statewide Stop the Hate initiative.