Potential Obstacle: School Administration
The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) will be staffing a legal referral hotline, to connect students and/or their parents to local attorneys when students face suspension, expulsion, and/or arrest as a consequence of participating in the National School Walkout. They may not be able to respond to each call immediately, but will do their best to connect students and/or parents with defense attorneys as quickly as possible. The hotline number is 1-857-529-9373 (1-857-LAWYER3). The hotline will be staffed from April 20, 2018 to April 27, 2018 (close of business).
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also has excellent resources: ACLU STUDENT RESOURCES.
Potential Obstacle: Counter-Protestors
Thanks to the huge marches and national media attention being garnered by these marches AND the ever-growing number of dedicated student activists, we know these events have drawn the attention--or attendance--from individuals who don’t support our mission. So we wanted to take a minute to talk about how to deal with any incidents you or your volunteers might experience ahead of tomorrow’s events.
BEFORE THE EVENT:
● If you’ve already been made aware that trolls or armed opposition plan to attend your event, you should definitely take a few minutes today to reach out to local law enforcement and make them aware of that fact.
● You can do this by calling, e-mailing, or walking into your local police precinct and alerting the supervisor on duty about the upcoming event. In many cases, police precincts may be willing to send an officer to check in on your event if you provide them information and any specific concerns you may have.* Be sure to:
○ Share logistics of the event (date, time, and place);
○ Express specific concerns (ie “people who have open carried at past events have RSVP’ed to an upcoming event”);
○ Ask for support at the event. You can say something like “Can you send an officer to the event to make sure things are running smoothly? Or “is there any possibility that you could have an officer patrolling in that area?”
● If you are able to gather your supporters in person before the event, it’s always a good idea to brief them on our policy of non-engagement with opposition.
Share any specific concerns with a staff person as soon as possible.
Make a plan in advance.
● Think through how to handle a hostile attendee or attendees in advance. Have a plan for who will contact local law enforcement and the venue owners/managers, and under what circumstances that should happen.
● Designate a “conflict manager” to keep an eye on attendees, make sure that our supporters do not engage with any hostile attendees, and to alert security or local law enforcement in the unlikely event that a situation escalates.
○ This person should plan to approach any of our volunteer contingent that IS engaging with opposition and say, “Hey, come here, I need you to speak to someone!” Or something like that.
AT YOUR EVENT:
● The local group or event lead should ask attendees to refrain from engaging with people who are there to disrupt the event or be antagonistic in any way. If your group plans to meet before a march, this is a great opportunity to “de-brief” everyone and ask them not to engage with any opposition they may encounter. Our opposition often WANT you to engage with them because it suits their need for attention and it makes them feel relevant. By engaging with them, you essentially give them a gift, which is WHY we ask that volunteers maintain a policy of non-engagement with disruptors or counter-protestors.
● If anyone hostile attends your event and/or tries to disrupt, don’t engage or retaliate. Engaging can escalate the incident and sometimes result in video recordings that are not helpful to the individuals participating or to our movement.
● At any point, if you feel as though you are in imminent danger and think that immediate action is required, you may choose to call 911. When calling 911, calmly describe the situation with as much precision and clarity as you can.
AFTER YOUR EVENT:
● If there’s an incident or unusual activity, at your event, report it to a staff member as soon as possible.
● If you had notified local law enforcement about the event, follow up with them and let them know how it went. Even if there were no disruptions to your event, call the precinct and thank them for their assistance. This can help forge a positive ongoing relationship with local law enforcement.
● Use your experience--what went well and what could have gone better--to inform the organization and planning of security for your next event.