MILWAUKEE — A group in Milwaukee is teaching residents how to step in and calm potentially violent situations when they see someone being harassed.
Standing Up for Racial Justice holds bystander intervention training classes that are designed to give people the confidence and know-how to confront racism, homophobia and other kinds of harassment, Milwaukee Public Radio reported .
The program focuses on four principles: directly intervening, distracting attention away from the situation, delegating tasks and delaying the situation. Participants take part in a series of exercises that are meant to get them comfortable with the different methods of diffusing a situation.
The approach won’t end racism or other kinds of discrimination, but it can help prevent violence, said Santera Michels, a class facilitator.
“It’s not the answer to ending white supremacy, xenophobia, anti-Muslim hate, Islamophobia, transphobia,” she said. “But it’s a piece of how to interrupt violence when it’s happening.”
The group advises against immediately calling police. Michels explained that doing so can actually incite more violence and escalate a situation. Instead, the group recommends taking less extreme approaches.
“But then again,” Michels said, “there might be situations where the person being harassed does want you to call the police. Your role then becomes as a cop watcher within the situation.”
Information from: WUWM-FM, http://www.wuwm.com