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300 BOSTONIANS ATTEND TRAINING TO RESIST ISLAMOPHOBIA & RACISM UNDER TRUMP
Members of the Jewish community and allies learned civil disobedience and active bystander intervention skills, in response to rise in bigotry under Trump
Boston, MA (January 26, 2017) – As news circulated that President Donald Trump would soon sign an executive order banning immigration from Muslim-majority countries, hundreds of Bostonians gathered at Arlington Street Church for trainings on collective mobilization.
Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston (JVP) organized two “Ready to Fight” workshops to prepare their membership and interfaith allies to oppose Islamophobia and racism on an institutional and individual level under Trump. Monday’s training focused on civil disobedience and was facilitated by Terry Marshall of Intelligent Mischief, a “creative action design lab.” One hundred attendees strategized potential actions to resist Trump’s possible “Muslim Registry.” Wednesday’s bystander intervention training was led by Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC). Over 200 attendees learned best practices for stopping and deescalating identity-based harassment.
“As a Muslim person, I am really happy to see so much authentic desire to be allies and stand up to violence,” said Maha Mian, a BARCC volunteer who co-facilitated Wednesday’s training. “Leaving this room, we’re going to have 200 more people who are ready stand up for a stranger being harassed on the MBTA.”
“There’s never been a more important time for Muslim allies to be visible and empowered,” said Dr. John Robbins, Executive Director of CAIR-Massachusetts. “It’s powerful to see people from all backgrounds coming together to share and build knowledge about how to support their Muslim neighbors.”
Training co-organizer Liza Behrendt emphasized that JVP-Boston is following the lead of experienced Muslim activists. “Islamophobic hate crimes are on the rise, but US policy has endangered Muslims here and abroad for generations. We are part of a growing interfaith movement that is ready to take action against Islamophobia, whether it’s Trump’s Muslim ban or the Countering Violent Extremism surveillance program here in Massachusetts .”
Organizers were heartened by the outpouring of interest; after the training was already filled, over 200 additional people attempted to sign up. “The response to the trainings has been amazing,” said Barbara Wilhelm, Coordinator of JVP-Boston’s Countering Islamophobia working group. “These events demonstrate the desire of the community to reject Trump’s hateful attacks and to stand together as a united force.”
Training participants also brought perspectives from multiple social movements: Jared Hicks identified himself as a member of Our Revolution Massachusetts. “We’re living in scary times that are only gonna get worse,” Hicks said. “It’s gonna take solidarity, across issues, to make it through.”
“We’re here to train individuals, but we’re also here to shift the culture,” said Ashley Slay, a Community Engagement Specialist at BARCC. “If people are truly motivated to stop harassment, we can change the culture.”
Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston is the local chapter of a national member-driven organization dedicated to a U.S. foreign policy based on peace, human rights, and respect for international law.
Trainers from Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (Photo via Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston)
Participants plan direct action against Trump’s proposed Muslim Registry (Photo via Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston)
Terry Marshall of Intelligent Mischief presents civil disobedience strategies (Photo via Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston)