NEW YORK ― “It’s not my place.” “I would make it worse.” “I’ve to go.” “Another person will do it.”

One after the other, individuals across the circle named the explanation why they won’t step in in the event that they noticed somebody being harassed on their commute.

It was all a part of a coaching The Huffington Put up attended in February from the Accompany Project ― a brand new program from the Arab American Association of New York that teaches individuals the way to intervene in conditions of potential violence.

The undertaking was began after the election of President Donald Trump, in response to a surge of anti-Muslim hate crimes.

“Solidarity is a verb. It’s one factor to say you’re an ally, and it’s one other to point out it,” Linda Sarsour, govt director of AAANY and co-chair of the Women’s March, instructed The Huffington Put up. “When you’re going to be horrified at seen Muslims being attacked in public areas, it’s important to be ready to step in.”

The Accompany Mission has held about 20 bystander intervention trainings since December, and greater than 500 New Yorkers have attended.

Whereas the trainings had been created in response to harassment of Arab and Muslim individuals particularly, this system seeks to deal with assaults on all weak teams, from LGBTQ individuals and ladies to immigrants and other people of shade.

“The purpose is to not make anybody really feel like a hero,” Kayla Santosuosso, deputy director at AAANY and chief of the Accompany Mission, instructed HuffPost. “It’s to scale back hurt.” 

Take a look at the video above to see some ways used within the bystander trainings.

Andy Katz/Pacific Press through Getty Pictures

Linda Sarsour, govt director of the Arab American Affiliation of New York, marches in Brooklyn in assist of the native Muslim group, Jan. 18, 2016.

On the coaching HuffPost attended, in Brooklyn’s Columbia Road Waterfront neighborhood, lead facilitator Rachel Blum Levy ― a social employee and knowledgeable in violence de-escalation ― ran via a lot of threatening conditions individuals may encounter in each day life. Blum Levy mentioned she developed this system’s curriculum with suggestions from AAANY employees and different members of the Muslim and “allied” communities.

“Everyone has the identical situation of their head ― anyone harassing a lady in a hijab on the subway,” Santosuosso instructed HuffPost. “However within the coaching we attempt to develop past that, as real-life conditions will not be that clear.”

This was one of many eventualities Blum Levy had attendees act out: You’re on the Division of Motor Autos. Everyone seems to be pissed off and on edge. A black lady will get referred to as up subsequent, and a white man ― who claims he was in line first ― begins to go on a tirade about how the DMV is racist. Do you intervene? And in that case, how?

Listed here are some ways the coaching teaches to disrupt violence.

1. Damaged Report 


Coaching attendees act out an intervention situation. 

The bystander intervenes by stepping in and repeating the identical assertion again and again to the aggressor till it will get via to them. That is typically utilized in conditions the place feelings are working excessive and somebody could not hear you the primary time, Santosuosso mentioned.

“Possibly it’s saying: ‘Give her area,’” Santosuosso instructed HuffPost. “So: ‘Give her area, give her area, give her area.’ Till they step again.”

2. Identify The Conduct


This tactic is supposed to name out somebody’s dangerous conduct with out being explicitly judgmental, in an effort to make them extra open to criticism and fewer more likely to act defensively or aggressively.

“You don’t say, ‘You’re racist.’ You say, ‘It’s good to decrease your voice,’” Santosuosso mentioned. “You lose the possibility to be a hero, however the vital factor is hurt discount.”

three. ‘I’ Statements


Facilitator Rachel Blum Levy trains members.

With this tactic, the bystander states how they really feel concerning the threats, in an effort to shift the aggressor’s focus away from the sufferer and towards the intervener.

“‘I’m uncomfortable,’ or ‘I would like you to cease,’” Santosuosso instructed. “This strikes consideration away from the sufferer ― however may additionally put you in danger.” 

four. Direct To ‘We’


On this case, the bystander creates what Santosuosso calls a “false group” with the aggressor in an effort to de-escalate the scenario.

“Say: ‘Why don’t we come over right here?’” Santosuosso mentioned. “Or: ‘We don’t speak to folks that manner.’”

“I have been a sufferer — however I’ve additionally been a bystander not realizing what to do.”
Reem Ramadan, AAANY employees member

“The primary coaching I went to, it felt like every part [the facilitator] was telling us had been issues I personally have skilled as a Muslim immigrant,” mentioned Reem Ramadan, an AAANY employees member who attended the coaching. “I’ve lived via it, I’ve been a sufferer ― however I’ve additionally been a bystander not realizing what to do. Because the coaching, I’ve truly carried out some [intervention].”

Whereas it’s useful to know just a few ways, individuals ought to attend a coaching to discover ways to assess conditions and use interventions accordingly, Santosuosso mentioned.


Blum Levy acts out an intervention situation.

“A whole lot of teams train bystander intervention,” Santosuosso instructed HuffPost. “However this one is particularly across the rise in Islamophobia.” 

Normally, bystander intervention teaches individuals the way to stop conditions of sexual violence. Such trainings are used on college campuses nationwide.

The thought for an Islamophobia-focused bystander coaching arose after the election, when a rise in hate crimes towards Muslims within the U.S. moved Santosuosso to begin a Google doc asking New Yorkers to volunteer to accompany people prone to harassment on their commutes.

Greater than 7,000 individuals signed up within the first 4 days, so Santosuosso determined to channel volunteers’ vitality towards one other manner to assist: getting educated in violence interruption. 

About 80 p.c of the individuals who’ve come to trainings are white, based on Santosuosso (who’s herself white and non-Muslim). They’re people who find themselves largely new to activism and “definitely new to bystander intervention,” she mentioned.

“As a Muslim American and a Muslim who wears hijab, I used to be invested in Kayla taking up this undertaking,” Sarsour instructed HuffPost. “It’s a tangible manner for an ally to point out solidarity in motion.”

Robert Nickelsberg through Getty Pictures

Sarsour, at proper, and her deputy director, Kayla Santosuosso, are seen in Brooklyn, New York, Oct. 20, 2015.

“Our coaching has individuals acknowledge that you’re not intervening to grow to be a hero,” Santosuosso mentioned. “Notably if you’re in a roundabout way affected by Trump’s insurance policies.”

The trainings train individuals to acknowledge the methods id can play an element in how persons are perceived, and to take that under consideration when deciding the way to intervene.

“For instance, selecting to name 911. Calling the police might be one thing that makes you’re feeling protected ― however will it put others in peril?” Blum Levy mentioned within the coaching. “Police deal with individuals very otherwise based mostly on the colour of their pores and skin. So ask your self: Does the profit outweigh the hurt?”

“You aren’t intervening to grow to be a hero ― significantly if you’re in a roundabout way affected by Trump’s insurance policies.”

The bystander trainings are the primary a part of a three-part coaching collection the Accompany Mission is growing. Half two, launching in March, will search to show individuals the way to deal with microaggressions ― or, as Blum Levy put it, “the way to name out your racist uncle.” Half three will instruct individuals on the way to get entangled in native activism efforts. “It’s group organizing 101,” Blum Levy mentioned. 

“Lots of people proper now are feeling like they simply don’t know what to do. They’re feeling helpless within the present political setting,” Sarsour instructed HuffPost. “This can be a one-time coaching to get expertise that you should use eternally. You possibly can say, ‘You realize what? I did one thing.’”

For HuffPost’s #LoveTakesAction collection, we’re telling tales of how persons are standing as much as hate and supporting these most threatened. Know a narrative out of your group? Ship information tricks to