Bay Area News Group: Workshop helps bystanders combat hate crimes
Hate can happen anywhere—on BART, a school campus or while just casually walking down the street, says Assemblyman Evan Low.
The former Campbell mayor said during a community meeting on Nov. 27 that he’s heard plenty of stories from people who have been attacked because of their identity, whether it be because of ethnicity, religion, sexuality, political affiliation or a combination.
That’s why Low teamed with the Council on American-Islamic Relations to participate in bystander intervention training.
“Frankly, being born and raised in Silicon Valley, I never thought (attacks) would happen,” Low said, regarding his own experiences and after seeing a viral video of an Asian American man being verbally and physically attacked on BART in November.
According to the FBI, 6,121 criminal incidents and 7,321 related offenses were reported last year as being motivated by bias against race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender and gender identity. Earlier this summer, the state’s attorney general reported the number of hate crimes in California rose about 11 percent last year.
“When we see wrongdoings, we should fight,” Low said during the meeting. “We should stand up to people.”
The training teaches people to help the victim rather than focus their attention on the attacker, according to Courtney Mangus, programs coordinator of the Council of American-Islamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area Office.
According to Mangus, this is the first year the office is conducting the bystander training, which has spread by word of mouth to other organizations. The Council of American-Islamic Relations hosts trainings for organizations that request them.
“The training is meant to cut the bystander effect,” when a person is less inclined to assist someone because there are others around, Mangus said. “This returns responsibility to the public.”
Mangus said bystanders who witness a person being targeted should not address the attacker at all. Instead, point out to other bystanders that something wrong is happening and help the targeted person by talking to them or help them leave the area.
“Make sure you or someone records and documents the incident,” Mangus said. “Never interact with the attacker; it could escalate the situation. Go up to the targeted person and have a conversation with them, any conversation. The attacker is ignored, and people are not validating what’s being said.”
She added that bystanders and victims look should also look for an exit from the immediate area.
For more information, visit ca.cair.com/sfba.